The Danger of Double Mutant Virus by Dr Rakesh Mishra, Dr Dhiren Gupta


Discussion about double mutant variant. So what exactly is double mutant variant for this we have on our panel Dr. Rakesh Mishra who is a director of CSIR-CCMB labs.

What exactly is double mutant variant and how it going to affect us in future?

Dr. Rakesh Mishra- Double mutant variant as the name suggests has two changes in its genome one L is converted into R at 452 position and in one E is converted Q at 484 position. So when these two mutation are together we calling it double mutant and what is observed that in cases that we have sequence genomes these two mutation are going together so that way its giving it signature to a new variant and particularly in Maharashtra about 20 % of the cases are due to this new variant as of now although in other states it’s not very prominent. It’s 1 or 2% or even less.

 How it is going to affect and who is responsible for this mutant variant?

Dr. Rakesh Mishra-  Responsible! Virus mutate in natural ways and if we allow the virus to spread then it will have more chance to mutate and only people are allowing it spread so people are responsible in that way but while this is natural process we should keep that also in mind, as far as problems are considered since even in Maharashtra where it is seen in highest proportion which is only 20 % that means 80% of the cases of Maharashtra are not because of this variant and other states we don’t see this variant so much. So this means this variant is not responsible for the recent rise in the cases something else is responsible which we can come in a minute, also we have not seen increased symptoms or mortality in fact more and more people are A symptomatic  not more than 85% and mortality has decreased so which means we understand the disease better and proper care have been given by the doctor that’s why mortality is less and this also means that this variant is like other circulating variants is not more dangerous. So it not a fast spreader, it is not clinically more dangerous but whether it will be a problem for the vaccine or not that is something we have to confirm because there are only reports that both of these mutations can have immune escape behaviour so will which be a concern for the vaccine but if it was actually happening at least in our case we would have seen by now some re-infection cases which we have not seen so far so many be it is less data so we can’t conclude very much but early indications are that immunity acquired  by prior infection and therefore by vaccination is protecting against this virus as if now so more data will be required. There are experimental ways of figuring that out which is to culture the virus in lab and see if the anti-bodies of vaccinated people or recovered people can neutralise this virus and that’s what we are doing and I am sure many labs are doing in the country. We have started culturing this is virus in coming weeks we’ll know if any protection of vaccine is compromised in this case but that will take little time. Early indications are that we need not to worry in that context here.

Does government requires more vaccines to control such mutant variants?

Dr. Rakesh Mishra-  It is always good to have, see vaccine is a weapon against infection. The more weapon you have the better you are these vaccines have come as a emergency approval and within a year the vaccine is available which most of us thought  will not be possible so that has happened that’s a remarkable achievement of the industry the scientist and also of our regulatory body who have gone so carefully and given these approvals and they have proven to be right because the vaccine is safe now more than 5 crore people have taken vaccine and they are doing well and vaccine in UK is reducing the infection significantly that observation has already been  made so it is a very good tool more is better so because these vaccines are emergency approval we don’t understand full particularly long term effect of these vaccine or age group other medical conditions, how long they will protect, which variant which one will protect all those data will emerge only after post vaccination follow up which is happening in many countries including  in our country and in coming months we will understand more about the utility of different vaccines. If someone is better for one vaccine, is better for younger people other is better for older people we don’t know today but we might understand it in coming months so therefore  it is very good idea to have more vaccines. We should have 6, 10 vaccines so that we ensure that pandemic is controlled and we don’t get into more problems in the future and not only that in fact we should try and vaccinate at very high rate largest number of people possible so we have enough doses we should before virus recovers and makes more variants we can eliminate the virus by vaccinating large number of people. So that is a good strategy to follow and while we do all this whether vaccination or no vaccination the covid appropriate behaviour is the most important most crucial point today. So even if  we are vaccinated it will take month, month and a half to get full effect of the vaccine and the vaccine does not mean that you will not get infected it means that we will not get very sick then you make not require to go to the hospital and the lives will be saved. But virus may still hang around so therefore most import thing is to wear mask avoid clustering and do hand hygiene that if you do carefully if all of us practice this no other which variant it is we can take care of because variant cannot penetrate the mask or trouble more than few metres to go an infect unless we are clustered in a hall and infected people are spreading there.

How such mutant takes place?

Dr. Rakesh Mishra-  So mutation is a natural process of these viruses like is common flu we see every year we get cough and cold may twice thrice so is the same virus but once it comes our system fights it and within a week or 10 days we get rid of it but after few months it changes it coat and comes back and infects again so it is the same thing happening with corona virus. Covid 19 virus as well it keeps changing  it is very natural in fact all of us you and I are different because our insisters have some mutant which we have been inherited  that’s why we look different all of have genomic chances they are originated with mutation at some point or the other and mutation if they are good for species then they persist and if they are bad then we perish similarly in virus if the mutation is bad it will be that particular virus will die and if the virus is in mutation in advantages for the virus it will adopt better and will spread more. So it is a natural process of all the living being that’s why we see variety in life.

Do you think in future it can be deadliest also if people will not take care of especially by not following the guidelines?

 Dr. Rakesh Mishra-  Absolutely, if we let like lakhs and lakhs of people are infected and virus is having a good time spreading all over so it will generate more variant there is no doubt about that and maybe we are lucky that the double mutant is not very dangerous at this moment but in future over this platform of double mutant all independently some other variant may emerge that may be more infectious that may not respect vaccination that may cause more mortality all those things are possible therefore get rid of this infection at large extent better we are otherwise failed at every point so our contribution is very important i.e. mask social distancing and hygiene in defeating this virus.

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