India Covid: Government says new variant linked to surge

India has said a new variant of the coronavirus first discovered there in March may be linked to a deadly second wave.

Samples containing the “double mutant” – or B.1.617 variant – have been found in several states with high case numbers.

However, an official with the National Centre for Disease Control said that they had still been unable to fully establish a correlation.

A double mutant is when two mutations come together in the same virus.

Meanwhile, India reported a record 412,00 cases in the space of 24 hours on Wednesday, and 3,980 deaths.

The government’s top scientific adviser has also warned that a third wave is inevitable.

Speaking at a health ministry briefing, K Vijay Raghavan admitted that experts had not anticipated the “ferocity” of the surge in cases.

“Phase three is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” he added during a news briefing. “But it is not clear on what timescale this phase three will occur… We should prepare for new waves,” he said.

The current surge of the virus has already overwhelmed the healthcare system with hospital beds, oxygen and even crematorium space in short supply.

Out of roughly 13,000 samples sequences, more than 3,500 were found to be variants of concern – including B.1.617 – across eight states.

The B.1.617 variant was reported in several states reporting surges including Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

For more than a month, Delhi insisted that the variant had no link to the current surge.

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