The double mutation of a Covid-19 variant discovered in India is extremely worrying – and, according to Dr. Kavita Patel, a non-resident Brookings Institution scholar, spread to other countries.
“It’s something that should be watched very closely and that won’t be limited to India. It’s something that we are likely to see around the world, as we have done with other variants,” she told CNBC “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.
The Indian Ministry of Health said last week that a variant with two mutations – known as E484Q and L452R – was found in the country. The mutations aren’t new, but the variant in India carries both – something that has not been seen in other variants.
The mutations could make the virus more contagious and better bypass the body’s defenses.
A health worker delivers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Bhopal, India on March 25, 2021.
STR | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
“This double mutation, number one, is incredibly serious. Number two, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg in what we’d be concerned about in Asia,” said Patel, who is also a former Obama administration official.
She said the mutations could lead to re-infections because the body’s immune system doesn’t recognize them and therefore can’t fight them effectively.
Patel also said she would be concerned about the effects of the mutation if she were an Asian health agency and think about ways to get vaccines as many people as possible.
Indian authorities said that Covid variants, including the double mutation strain, have not been detected in large enough numbers to explain the increase in new infections.