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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India


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THE COUNT
  • India’s health ministry on Friday confirmed 44,230 new cases and 555 fatalities, taking the total to 31,572,344 cases (405,155 active cases) and 423,217 fatalities.
  • Worldwide: Over 196.62 million cases and 4,198,379 fatalities.
  • Vaccination in India: 456,033,754 doses. Worldwide: Over 3.99 billion doses.
TODAY’S TAKE
How do new variants emerge?
How do new variants emerge?
  • Scientists from different research institutes, including the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi and IIT Jodhpur, said the novel coronavirus undergoes changes in the body of an infected person and once it’s done, it infects new people carrying the changes with it.
  • This results in the emergence of new variants. The research study found that about 80% of the genomes sequenced in individuals had later emerged as new variants or strains.
  • The researchers analysed samples of Covid patients from two different time-periods of the pandemic. In phase 1, the team analysed 1,347 samples collected by June 2020 from China, Germany, Malaysia, UK, US and different subpopulations of India to perceive a genome-wide intrahost single nucleotide variation (iSNV) map in Covid-19 patients. Single nucleotide variation (SNV) is a substitution of a nucleotide (a basic building block of nucleic acid or genetic material) for another.
  • The team observed 18,146 iSNV sites spanning the viral genome, including residues that defined the B.1 and B.6 lineages of the virus that were prominent in the listed populations before June 2020.
  • “Interestingly, 41% of all unique iSNVs identified in these samples were found to be reported as an single nucleotide variation (SNV) by Sept. 30, 2020 in one or more samples submitted in GISAID, increasing to about 80% by Jun. 30, 2021. The likelihood that iSNVs can overtime manifest into SNVs in populations was further substantiated in phase 2 by analysing 1,798 samples sequenced in India between November 2020 and May 2021,” the researchers said.

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TELL ME ONE THING
As severe as chickenpox: US CDC on Delta variant
As severe as chickenpox: US CDC on Delta variant
  • An internal document by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) that was first accessed by The Washington Post warns that the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — first identified in India — is as contagious as chickenpox and causes a more severe illness than other variants.
  • The data that was shared in the internal document, which is likely to be made public later today, has forced US federal health officials to “acknowledge the war has changed.” The worry generated by the data has already prompted the US CDC to reverse its guidance for vaccinated people on wearing masks indoors — asking them earlier this week to start wearing masks in indoor public spaces, especially in high-transmission areas.
  • The document cites data culled from studies of outbreak investigations conducted by the CDC and others that showed evidence that vaccinated people who carried the delta strain were able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated — with the viral loads in the vaccinated comparable to those in the unvaccinated and infected with the variant.
  • Older people, according to the document, have a higher risk of hospitalisation and death vis-a-vis younger age-groups from the delta variant, irrespective of their vaccination status. Of the 162 million Americans who have been vaccinated so far, the CDC estimates 35,000 new infections per week.
  • While still batting for vaccination, the CDC document says that since the risk of getting infected with the delta variant depends a lot on age-related factors and whether a person has a compromised immune system, vaccines may not be effective in such people, which could strengthen the case for booster doses. Additionally, it says that “given higher transmissibility and current vaccine coverage, universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the Delta variant.”
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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