Covid-19: More virulent variant of Delta fuels fear of resistance to cocktails

Covid-19: More virulent variant of Delta fuels fear of resistance to cocktails

HYDERABAD: The highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 that first surfaced in India is believed to have mutated into a more virulent version called AY.1 or Delta + – one that may be able to resist even the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies currently prescribed as a remedy for the virus.
According to Public Health England, an executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Affairs, 63 Delta genomes (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified so far as part of the science initiative global GISAID. In its latest Covid-19 variant report, updated until last Friday, India had reported six cases of Delta + as of June 7.
Dr Vinod Scaria, clinician and computational biologist at the Delhi Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, said an important point to consider regarding K417N was “evidence suggesting resistance to the monoclonal antibodies Casirivimab and Imdevimab”. This cocktail has received authorization for emergency use in the country from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization.

Scaria tweeted on Sunday that among the emerging variants, Delta + (B.1.617.2.1) was characterized by the acquisition of the K417N mutation which corresponds to the receptor binding domain and has also been associated with immune evasion. “The variant frequency for K417N is not much in India. As Delta continues to evolve, acquiring new mutations, there is a lot of interest in understanding these mutations, ”he wrote, naming the new mutant Delta +.

The report from Public Health England states that the Delta-AY.1 version was found through routine analysis of Delta variations. A small number of the sequences detected had acquired the K417N spike protein mutation, he said. Scientists attribute the first such streak to Europe at the end of March. Scaria said 127 footage from Europe, Asia and America is now available in the public domain. Scaria pointed out that several genomes now available around the world were part of the AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1 lineage.


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