The second wave, emerging variants and the vaccines

COVID, second wave, coronavirus,
Image: Prathap Ravishankar

“Yes, what we are witnessing now is probably the emergence of a second-wave,” cautions Anurag Agrawal, director of CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB).

After nearly a year of worldwide spread, infecting about 127 million causing 2.78 million deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic was appearing to recede during the first two months of 2021. However, COVID cases started to spike alarmingly during March this year in India, ranking it again third after the USA and Brazil among countries with COVID cases.

As the vaccine is being rolled out, the buoyant hope was clouded by new variants of the virus. The emergence of a new variant dubbed ‘double mutation’ in India has added to the woes.

This variant of interest (VoI), sporting a combo of two relatively new immune-escape mutations, ‘L452R and E484Q’, in the background of other mutations, is predicted to confer the virus with increased infectivity and antibody-escape property.

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