The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has discovered N440K variant, that might be responsible for creating havoc in Visakhapatnam and other parts of the State, experts said. Though it is too early to conclude that the new variant, which is being called the AP strain, is behind the huge surge in some parts of state.
The strain first discovered in Kurnool, is considered to be at least 15 times more virulent than the earlier ones, and may be even stronger than the Indian variants of B1.617 and B1.618, a report in The Hindu said.
“We are still to ascertain, which strain is in circulation right now, as samples have been sent to CCMB for analysis. But one thing is certain that the variant at present which is in circulation in Visakhapatnam is quite different from what we have seen during the first wave last year,” District Collector V Vinay Chand, who is updated about the developments by senior doctors in the health department said.
District COVID Special Officer PV Sudhakar said that they have observed that the new variant has shorter incubation period and the progress of the disease is much rapid. In the earlier cases, a patient affected with Covid-19 would take at least a week to reach the hypoxia or dyspnea stage, but now patients are reaching the serious condition stage within three or four days. Sudhakar added that it has led to pressure on beds with oxygen and ICU beds.
Unlike the first wave, a shorter exposure is enough to acquire the virus, experts say adding that it could further infect four to five people within a shorter span.
Experts have added that this variant is highly unpredictable. “Most essentially, none is spared, as we have observed that it is affecting the younger population in a big way, including those who are fitness freaks and have high immunity levels. It is also observed that cytokine storm is occurring faster, and some are responding to treatment and some are not,” Dr Sudhakar added.