4 detected with SA variant of COVID-19, 1 with Brazil strain

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Four people were detected with the South Africa variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India in January, while one tested positive for the Brazil variant in the first week of February, the Centre said on Tuesday.

In India, the South Africa strain has been detected in four returnees — one from Angola, one from Tanzania and two from South Africa in January, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said. All travellers and contacts have been tested and quarantined.

“The ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the SA variant strain from the samples of these four individual returnees,” he said.

One Brazil returnee has tested positive for the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the first week of February. The traveller and contacts have been tested and quarantined.

“The virus strain has been successfully isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV, Pune,” Bhargava said, adding experiments to assess vaccine effectiveness are underway.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 187. There has been no mortality. “We have been able to culture and isolate this strain and test the efficacy of the vaccine,” he said.

A very close watch is being kept on these variants, he stressed. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said as of February 16 till 1 pm, 87,40,595 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country out of which a total of 62,82,646 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.