Notably, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday said 21 cases of the Delta Plus variant, considered highly infectious, have been found in the state so far, including nine in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane and Sindhudurg districts.
Dr Joshi in a tweet on Wednesday said, “Variant of concern, vaccine and Panic. Delta plus variant of concern does not have sufficient data to be alarmed except that we must continue our strict COVID appropriate behaviour with double mask, avoid crowds and continue vaccination.”
“Delta plus virulence unknown, transmission may be more,” he added.
The new Delta Plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave.
Though there is no indication yet of the severity of the disease due to the new variant, Delta Plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19 recently authorised in India.
Some cases of the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 have also been found in Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
India is among the 10 countries where the Delta Plus mutation has been found so far, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday.
According to a statement issued by the Union Health Ministry, INSACOG had informed that the Delta Plus variant, “currently a variant of concern (VOC)”, has these characteristics — increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Besides India, the Delta Plus variant has been found in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.
The Delta variant is found in 80 countries around the world, including India, and it is a variant of concern, Bhushan had said.