India's top health research bodies, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), are set to conduct a study to examine the efficacy of the Indian vaccines against the Delta Plus variant of the COVID-19 virus, local media reports said Thursday.
About 40 cases infected with the Delta Plus coronavirus strain had been reported in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh as of Wednesday. The Delta Plus variant is a mutant version of the Delta strain first detected in the South Asian country, which is considered highly infectious and fast-spreading.
"The newly emerged Delta Plus variant has possible increased transmissibility, higher binding capacity to the lung cells and resistance to monoclonal antibody treatment. Looking at this scenario, Delta Plus variant could be a concern, and a high watch should be undertaken and containment of affected zone should be done to reduce the transmission," Dr. Pragya Yadav, head of the NIV's Maximum Containment Facility, was quoted by local media as saying.
According to Yadav, samples have been collected for the related study to start soon.
"As per earlier data concerning Delta variant, neutralization was happening with the existing vaccines in India. Though neutralization has dropped, it's enough to protect against Delta variant. Delta Plus should also behave (in a similar manner). We are working in this direction. We have isolated this variant and we are going to conduct a study soon," said Yadav.
The Delta Plus variant has been declared as Variant of Concern (VOC) in India. On Tuesday, the federal government urged the Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh states to take immediate measures to curb its spread.
Overall, India's COVID-19 tally rose to 30,082,778 on Thursday, with 54,069 new confirmed cases registered in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry. The death toll rose to 391,981 including 1,321 deaths newly recorded.