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What is Delta Plus, a variant of coronavirus with K417N mutation?

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is Delta Plus, a variant of coronavirus with K417N mutation?


The Health Ministry has categorised Delta Plus variant of coronavirus as a ‘variant of concern’. It has been detected in many states.

What is a ‘variant of concern’?

It is one for which there is evidence of:

  1. An increase in transmissibility.
  2. More severe diseases that require hospitalisation or death.
  3. A significant reduction in neutralisation by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination.
  4. Reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

In the case of the Delta Plus variant, the Health Ministry identified three characteristics — increased transmissibility; stronger binding in receptors of lung cells; and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

How do variants of a virus emerge and why?

  1. Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.
  2. Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.
  3. Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.

What is a mutation?

  • A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
  • In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
  • A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.

Variants of Concern so far:

‘Variants of concern’ include B.1.1.7 or Alpha first identified in the UK, B.1.351 or Beta first identified in South Africa, and B.1.427 or Epsilon first identified in the US.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified the Delta variant or B.1.617.2, first found in India, as a ‘variant of concern’.

How can a variant of concern be controlled?

  1. They require appropriate health actions like increased testing or “research to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against the variant”.
  2. Based on the characteristics of the variant, additional considerations may include the development of new diagnostics or the modification of vaccines or treatments.


Insta Curious: 

Do you know Variants of Interest and Variants of High Consequence ? Read here



Prelims Link:

  1. What is Covid 19?
  2. What is mutation?
  3. What is mRNA?
  4. What is the RT- PCR test?
  5. What is genome sequencing?
  6. What is a variant of concern?

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with mutations of Covid- 19 virus.

Sources: the Hindu.