GUWAHATI: Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today urged Assam's citizens to exercise extreme caution as the 'dangerous' India-originating double mutant variety of COVID-19 has landed on the state's shores.
"Genomic sequence has revealed that the double mutant has arrived in Assam's shores and it is spreads quickly and is, therefore, more dangerous," Sarma told reporters on the sidelines of an all-party meet. "After the UK strain, the ICMR has also detected the double mutant strain. Therefore, there is no alternative to staying careful."
"Since this strain has developed after a mutation of the UK and Californian strains, it has its own character," Sarma said.
Scientists think the B1617 variant is more contagious, because of a mutation it carries called L452R, which helps the virus’s spike protein unlock our cells. B1617 also carries a second mutation, called E484Q, that changes the spike protein, which may make the virus less susceptible to pre-existing antibodies. The main concern with the Indian variant is the potential for reduced vaccine efficacy.
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On a positive note, Biswa Sarma shared that the state is not staring at a shortage of oxygen or anti-COVID-19 drugs. "Oxygen supply is good, Remdesivir is there, and we have an adequate number of vacant ICU beds. However, if an uncountable number of people test positive, there is bound to be a shortage. But till now, we are not facing and lack."
Sarma also announced that the state government is also planning to ramp up its anti-COVID infrastructure in anticipation of another spiral of cases.
"Today, we have transformed the hospital at Dhirenpara into a COVID-19 hospital. Similarly, we are planning to set up more such hospitals in Guwahati. Today, we will set up at COVID-19 Centre at Sarusajai. We are also mulling to set up a 100-bedded COVID-19 ICU in Khanapara. We have not had to turn anyone back so far," he said.
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