NEW DELHI: Genome sequencing of recent samples from across the country shows that the Delta variant continues to be the dominant lineage causing new Covid-19 cases though there is strong evidence that vaccination offers a high level of protection, the Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said.

The Delta variant — which has high transmissibility and is more virulent as compared to others — contributed to a majority of clinical cases in vaccine breakthrough (infections post vaccination) but very few cases needed hospitalisation, a latest study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows. Only 9.8% cases required hospitalisation and fatality was as low as 0.4%.

Underlining the importance of vaccination and the need to continue with Covid-appropriate behaviour like use of masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene, INSACOG said: “Continuing outbreaks across India are attributable to Delta, a susceptible population, and opportunities for transmission. Public health measures to reduce transmission and vaccination remain critical.”
Even outside India, Delta remains the most rapidly rising lineage globally that is responsible for multiple outbreaks, including in Southeast Asia, which shows the fastest growth in new cases globally. However, regions with high vaccination and strong public health measures, such as Singapore, continue to do well.

Even as a growing range of mutations are seen in the UK, the US and India, other “variants of concerns” (VOCs) continue to be very low in India and are declining relative to Delta globally, the consortia said.

“While these mutations will be tracked and investigated, there is currently no evidence of any new Delta sub-lineage that is of greater concern than Delta,” INSACOG said in its latest bulletin.

Clusters of cases containing new mutations of known clinical significance will continue to be specifically looked for, it added. Several districts in Kerala and Maharashtra are seeing a spurt in cases, whereas many in Rajasthan and north-eastern states are also seeing high positivity.
On Tuesday, 42,015 new cases were recorded from across the country. The Delta variant (B1617.2), which was first detected in India and is now sweeping the globe, represents 87% of the sequenced samples in May and June in India.

According to the US CDC, the variant represents 83% of Covid-19 sequenced samples in America.

The latest national serological survey conducted by the ICMR shows around one-third of the general population is still vulnerable to infection.

Health officials have also pointed that some states and districts in particular where positivity is high can also lead to further spread, causing a third wave.

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