Three variants of the rapidly spreading virus active in the country


Nepal government on Tuesday confirmed that another variant of the coronavirus - B.1.617.2 - has been detected here, signifying that three known variants of the virus are currently active in the country.

The announcement, however, came months after the second wave of the pandemic started wherein the infection rate was much higher as compared to the first wave, which the experts had been claiming for long was due to the new mutant variant as identified in India.

The Ministry of Health and Population said that of the 35 samples that had been sent for gene sequencing to CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India, a WHO recognised centre of excellence in genomic sequencing, B.1.617.2 was detected in 34 samples. The remaining sample showed the presence of the B.1.617.1 variant.

The virus arising in Wuhan in China was first confirmed in Nepal on January 24, 2020.

The Health Ministry further urged the people to strictly adhere to the prescribed health protocols as the new variant has been found to be more infectious than the older ones while also posing higher health risks for people of all age groups.

"WHO had, on May 10, declared this variant as a variant of global concern," the MoHP stressed.

Earlier in Jan 2021, the UK variant -- B.1.1.7 -- was identified in three samples sent for sequencing to Hong Kong.

Lineage B.1.617 variant or G/452R.V3 is one of the known variants of Covid-19 causing SARS-CoV-2. Reports state that the variant, referred to as a double variant, was first detected in the Indian state of Maharashtra in October 2020.

Later in May 2021, B.167.2 -- the one behind the second wave of the uncontrollable pandemic in India -- was declared a Variant of Concern based on its assessment of transmissibility as evidence of higher transmissibility and reduced neutralisation.