India finds ‘double mutant’ Covid variant with ‘increased infectivity’

India’s health ministry said on Wednesday that a new “double mutant variant” of the coronavirus and other “variants of concern” have been detected across 18 of the country’s states.

It comes after the country recorded 47,262 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the largest daily spike in months, as the total number of Covid cases rose above 11.7 million.

Experts have said the country may be entering a second wave, though the health ministry said only five states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat — account for about 77 per cent of the new cases.

India ramped up its genomic sequencing efforts amid concerns about the arrival of the UK variant into the country in December, and said studies have continued to further analyse the situation.

But it cautioned against making a link between the identified “variants of concern” and the spike in cases overall, saying that such variants “have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states”.

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