The Central Government on Tuesday termed the Delta plus variant as a ‘variant of concern’ just hours after Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and chairman, National Empowered Group on Vaccination V.K. Paul said it was only a ‘variant of interest (VoI)’.
As per reports, variant of concern (VoC) carries the highest threat perception of a coronavirus variant, which is characterised by increased infectivity, transmissibility or resistance to vaccines and treatment, whereas a VoI is a degree lower.
As of June 14, the World Health Organisation had classified the variant ‘delta’ (B.1.617.2) as well as offshoots — AY.1 and AY.2 — as VoC.
According to reports, there are only four international VoC (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) with the off-shoots, AY.1 and AY.2 classified as off-shoots of Delta so far.
In a press statement, the Ministry first referred to it as a ‘variant of concern’ then issued a correction calling it a ‘variant of interest’ and then again reverted to calling it a ‘variant of concern’.
A scientist connected with the consortium, INSACOG, (Indian SarsCov2 Genomic Consortia) told media sources that on condition of anonymity that AY.1 was “always” a variant of concern but was wrongly classified by the Health Ministry as a VoI.
The Health Ministry wrote to States on Tuesday to take up immediate containment measures, enhanced testing, tracking and vaccination in districts and clusters where the Delta Plus variant is found and ensure that “adequate samples” of positive persons be promptly sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that the clinical epidemiological correlations could be made.