Andhra Covid variant (N440K) No need to Worry: Experts


On reports of a unique and more virulent strain or the Andhra Pradesh strain, circulating in South India, former CCBM director Dr. Rakesh Mishra has said that the N440K strain is not new and is not a cause of concern.

Debunking the perception that the N440K variant circulating in South India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, is much more dangerous than the previous variants of Covid-19, experts have clarified that the strain has been circulating for months and is now disappearing.

Experts about N440K strain?

  • The former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCBM) Dr Rakesh Mishra said that while the N440K strain was indeed dominant in large parts of South India, it is now fading away and another variant -- the UK strain -- is being seen in these parts.

  • On whether the N440K strain or the Andhra Pradesh strain is a cause of concern, Dr. Rakesh Mishra said, “Not at all. This strain, N440K, has been in circulation and dominant for months now in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. I am more concerned about the UK strain and the double-mutant strain replacing this strain in South India. These two strains, particularly the one in the UK, are causing more infections.”

  • He added, “N440K was found to be more dominant than previous variants during cell culture, but this strain is fading away. It is disappearing.”

  • On whether the N440K strain or the Andhra Pradesh strain is a cause of concern, Dr. Rakesh Mishra said, “Not at all. This strain, N440K, has been in circulation and dominant for months now in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. I am more concerned about the UK strain and the double-mutant strain replacing this strain in South India. These two strains, particularly the one in the UK, are causing more infections.”

  • He added, “N440K was found to be more dominant than previous variants during cell culture, but this strain is fading away. It is disappearing.”


What is Andhra Covid strain?

  • The N440K strain of the novel coronavirus was detected in June-July last year from samples in South India. This strain was prevalent in December 2020 and the early months of 2021, but its spread dropped drastically in March and now its share among the positive cases is minimal.

  • In a clarification, Andhra Pradesh Covid Command Centre chairman Dr. KS Jawahar Reddy said, “It is pertinent to note that Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update dated April 25 issued by WHO mentions lineage B1617 as VOI (Variant of Interest) from India and does not mention variant N440K. If this variant is of such public health concern as reported in certain sections of media, it should have by now found place WHO reports as well as ICMR reports.”

  • "Hence it is clarified that research data so far does not establish that N440K is variant of interest and is very virulent," Reddy said.

What led to panic among the public?

  • Reports quoting experts saying the variant, N440K, at least 15 times more lethal than the earlier ones led to panic among the public.

  • However, experts clarified that the results were based on experiments conducted in cell culture. Experts say that while the N440K variant grows faster in a culture, that does not mean it is more virulent in humans.


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