India posted today (22 Apr) the world’s biggest one-day jump of 314,835 coronavirus cases ever as a new wave of infections cripples the country. The huge number of cases is currently overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums and prompting frantic cries for help on social media.
India now has almost 16 million cases, the second-most globally, as it struggles to provide enough shots for its 1.3 billion people despite being home to the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer. Lower vigilance around masks and social distancing have contributed to the resurgence, with large festivals and elections allowed to take place with few precautions.
India’s current wave is also more lethal after the it saw fewer fatalities than other developing nations earlier in the pandemic, puzzling experts. Covid-related deaths have jumped to more than 184,000.
On social media, one message screams “Mumbai please help! Lungs damaged due to pneumonia infection. In need of ICU bed.” Another reads “Plasma urgently required for treatment of Covid patient in Max Hospital, Delhi.” More follow. “Urgently needed Tocilizumab injection. Please DM if you know of stock in and around Mumbai.”
As the cases surge, a triple mutation of the coronavirus has now started to appear in parts of India, according to a report on Yahoo News. This triple variant is reported to have befuddled many epidemiologists.
Two of the triple-mutant varieties have been found in samples collected from Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.
The double mutant strain of coronavirus that many experts say is behind the recent rapid surge of COVID-19 infections was first detected in October last year. In this variant, both the mutations, E484Q and L425R, were located in the virus’s critical spike protein — the key protein that binds the virus to the receptor cells in the body.
The destructive potential of the mutant should have raised red flags and led to widespread gene surveillance to look for its spread. However, the slow pace of the genome sequencing exercise was slowed down between November and January due to lack of funds and absence of clear directives from the Indian government.
The report said that a third mutation in the B.1.167 has been identified currently. It’s not known how this triple mutant variant would affect the spread of COVID-19 infections in India and to the rest of the world.