Covid-19: Triple mutation in West Bengal virus raises concern among experts

Amidst election and coronavirus chaos, West Bengal medical staff now draws attention towards a triple mutation that may escape vaccine antibodies


While back-to-back public rallies take place in West Bengal on April 22, 2021 media reports discuss findings of an indigenous triple mutation of Covid-19 called B.1.618.

According to The Print, the virus is the second such mutation after B.1.617 also known as the double-mutant virus. The B.1.618 is called the Bengal virus although the lineage was also discovered in Maharashtra and Delhi.

Although such mutations are not uncommon, the Bengal virus is considered to be more infectious, thus drawing more attention from the medical community, reported the Times of India. Moreover, its E484K mutation, characteristic of Brazilian and South African variants, can escape attack from antibodies taught to fight against virus sans this mutation. This includes antibodies developed by vaccines.

While research is underway, a report by The Hindu stated that the variant may be playing a role in the month-long rise in Covid-19 cases. The B.1.618 was first isolated on October 25, 2020 and then again on March 17, 2021. Similar variants were also found in the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore and Finland. Key changes to the spike protein that helps the virus bind better to the body’s cells are most closely tracked. In the case of B.1.618, there are four characteristic mutations to the spike protein associated with increased infectivity and immune escape.

According to CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology Researcher Vinod Scaria’s tweet, the proportion of B.1.618 has been growing significantly in recent months in West Bengal. Along with B.1.617, it forms a major lineage in the region.

The state’s Covid-19 health bulletin shows that 10,784 new cases were recorded on April 21. Yet, political parties continue to hold public rallies. On Thursday, BJP leader Amit Shah announced public rallies in: Harirampur district at noon; Gazole district at 1:30 PM; Durgapur Purba district at 3:40 PM.


Mr Prime Minister, Please save lives!
Battleground Bengal: ‘They are selling all our public assets. They will end up selling the country!’
No lockdown or curfew in Bengal, but serious steps to tackle Covid, says Mamata
Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?



Related Articles