India variant: Which mutations does the India ‘double mutant’ variant have?

Boris Johnson discusses potential measures for Indian variant

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The Indian Covid variant has emerged as a new “variant of concern”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The organisation upgraded the variant’s threat level earlier this week, just as sequenced cases increased in the UK. Scientists have identified several concerning mutations in the variant.

Which mutations does the India variant have?

Covid variants have concerned scientists around the world due to their “enhanced” biology.

Some, such as the South African, Brazil and Kent versions, have adopted new mutations which make them more transmissible or adept at evading the immune system.

One of the reasons the Indian Covid variant has proven so troublesome is that it has two of these mutations.

The scientific community has given the Indian variant the official designation B.1.617.

Within B.1.617 are a selection of mutations, two of which have been identified as of particular concern.

Named L452R and E484Q, they have led some people to dub B.1.617 a “double mutant”.

Both of these have previously appeared in other viruses.

Scientists first detected L452R, a mutation of the virus’s spike protein, in a Californian variant.

In the Californian virus, the change made it 20 percent more transmissible than the base Covid strain.

Health authorities have not yet confirmed how much more transmissible B.1.617 is yet, however.

Scientists have detected the other mutation, E484Q, in both the Brazilian and South African variants.

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Otherwise known as an “escape mutation”, E484Q allows the virus to evade immune system defences.

The mutation’s presence has caused fears it could bypass vaccine protection, although health officials believe it is still effective.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is among organisations convinced vaccines still work.

The agency said in a tweet: “EMA is monitoring very closely the data on the Indian variant.”

“We are seeing promising evidence that mRNA vaccines would be able to neutralise this variant.”

Increasing variant populations has prompted a push from vaccine developers, many of whom are now building booster shots.

Manufacturers including Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca have so far committed to building them.

Some of these could come to distribution lines by the end of the year.

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