At least three states in India have reported cases of Delta Plus, the most recent mutation of Delta variant, which dominated India during the deadly second wave of Covid-19.
Experts in India suggest the Delta Plus or AY.01 could evade both vaccine and infection immunity, because of a mutation known as K417N, originally discovered in the Beta variant in South Africa.
21 cases of this new variant have been reported in Maharashtra, while three cases were reported in southern Kerala and one case in Madhya Pradesh.
The Indian government acknowledged the emergence of this variant on 16 June. Dr VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, government public policy think tank, said that the strain was a “variant of interest”, but not yet a “variant of concern”.
Health officials in the state of Maharashtra warned last week that the Delta plus variant could trigger a third wave of infections predicting it could hit the state as early as the next two to four weeks if people did not abide Covid-appropriate behaviour.
The experts are still studying the variant and suggest that there is no evidence as of now to suggest that Delta Plus is more transmissible.
US average deaths fall below 300 for first time since March 2020
US deaths from Covid-19 have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since March last year during the first wave of the pandemic.
Data from federal sources also showed the drive to put shots in arms at home approaching an encouraging milestone: 150 million Americans fully vaccinated.
Joe Biden was however expected to fall short of his commitment to shipping 80m Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, because of regulatory and other hurdles.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters getting the shots shipped was proving to be “a Herculean logistical challenge” – which the administration has been unable to meet.
The US death toll from Covid-19 stands at more than 601,000. The worldwide count is close to 3.9m. The real figures in both cases are believed to be markedly higher: