Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan has said that 93 per cent of people who were affected by Covid-19 in the state were infected with the ‘Delta’ (B.1.617.2) variant.
“The Delta variant is very much present. Kappa (variant) is also there,” he said on Wednesday.
The World Health Organizaton (WHO) recently categorised the Delta variant as a Variant of Concern (VOC). It has said that it continues to observe “significantly increased transmissibility” and a “growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant”.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has directed the health department to carry out genome sequencing of at least five per cent of the total Covid-19 positive cases across the state in a day. An eight-member high-level committee has been formed to oversee the process.
This decision was made following sequencing of samples from 44 symptomatic individuals at HCG Strand Labs which found that 41 patients had been infected with the B.1.617.2 variant.
Dr Vishal Rao, Dean, HCG Cancer Centre, and member of Covid Task Force, Government of Karnataka, said that the intent of the exercise was to look at the patterns of the new strain. According to him, people across the world are looking at genomic epidemiological surveillance, a new generation of epidemiological approaches which looks at real-time tracking.
Dr Rao said that genomic sequencing is the need of the hour which, if done properly, will help the authorities mount a much faster public health response, which could be lockdowns, containments, tracing and especially ICU surveillance to identify which is the aggressive strain that is leading to deaths.
He rued the fact that authorities chose to adopt a wait and watch mode that led to chaos and explained why genomic sequencing should be the way forward.
“The strain (Delta) was detected in December last year. This gap from December to April this year was because we waited for the virus to dictate the terms of the clinical wrath that it created. Rather, if we were able to watch these patterns, a much more robust public health response could be mounted by the healthcare, task forces and governments across the country to create bio-bubbles,” he added.