The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has transformed into the 'Delta plus' or 'AY.1′ variant. A mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variety, initially found in India and one of the drivers of the second wave, has given rise to the new Delta plus variant. According to Public Health England, 63 genomes of Delta (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified so far on the global science initiative GISAID. According to the latest report on coronavirus variants, Delta Plus was present in six genomes from India as of June 7th.
Vinod Scaria, clinician and scientist at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), tweeted on Sunday - "One of the emerging variants is B.1.617.2.1 also known as AY.1 characterized by the acquisition of K417N mutation." He said that the mutation is in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 which helps the virus enter the human cells and cause infection. The variant frequency for K417N is not much in India at this point in time and these sequences are mostly from Europe, Asia and America.
By June 7, a total of 63 genomes of 'Delta Plus' variant were identified on GISAID from Canada, Germany, Russia, Nepal, Switzerland, India, Poland, Portugal, Japan and the US. There are 36 cases of the new variant in the UK and it makes up 6% of all cases in the US.
Coming to the medication, Delta plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19 recently authorised in India. Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation gave approval for the cocktail of Casirivimab and Imdevimab and it can be used during emergency. The cost of the cocktail is Rs. 59,750 per dose.
Casirivimab and Imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies that are directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and are used to prevent the virus from attaching to human cells and infecting them.