Amidst rising coronavirus cases, Government of India on Wednesday shared variants of concern (VOCs) and also mentioned detection of a double mutant variant of the novel coronavirus.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomic (INSACOG) on its analysis of various samples from Maharashtra found an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations, as compared to December 2020. The GoI said, "Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity".

The Consortium (a group of 10 national laboratories in India) found this mutation in about 15 to 20 per cent of samples and shared that these VOCs don't match with previously known VOCs.

Though genomic variants of various viruses does seem natural, the GoI shared, this particular case needs epidemiological and public health response of increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, prompt isolation of positive cases, and proper treatment.

Till date, INSACOG has detected 771 VOCs in India, carried out on samples from arriving international travellers, contacts of those positive for VOC, and community samples from most of the States at the laboratories.

Another variant, called N440K, which was sequenced in the samples from Kerala has also been associated with immune escape, as seen in the samples from Maharashtra. This was found in 123 samples of Kerala.

"Though VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in number sufficient to either establish or direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some States," the release stated.

The genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies are still ongoing to find details about the variants.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, there are 368,457 active cases of Covid-19 in India while 160,441 deaths have been recorded; numbers of both are currently rising speedily.