New variants could lead to resurgence of Covid-19 cases: Dr Nisar Ul Hassan

Srinagar, Feb 20: With India reporting mutated strains of the novel Coronavirus, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday said the new variants could lead to resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
“New variants could trigger a new wave of Covid-19 that could reignite the pandemic,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“After the UK variant, South African and Brazilian variants have found their way into India,” he said.
“At least 4 people have tested positive for South African variant of the virus and one has tested positive for the Brazilian variant.”
“While we struggle to come to grips with the foreign strains, a “new Indian mutant strain” has been found in Maharashtra which is seeing a spike in cases after a two month lull,” DAK President said.
“The new variants are on the move and they can sneak into the valley anytime,” he said adding Kashmir being the favorite tourist destination, the mutant strains could spread into the region through tourists.”
“The variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants which could lead to surge in new Covid-19 cases,” Dr Nisar said.
“People who have recovered from Covid-19 infection could be re-infected with the new mutated strains of the novel virus.”
Quoting a study published in the preprint server bioRxiv, he said that antibodies elicited by natural Covid-19 infection may not be able to neutralize emerging strains that display mutations in their genetic sequence.
“The new strains have been found to evade the effectiveness of the existing vaccines that have been developed against the original strain of the novel virus,” Dr Nisar said.
“Researchers from Johannesburg have shown that Oxford vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant.”
“Vaccine trials carried out by Janssen and Novavax too showed a significant drop in efficacy due to the variant,” he said.
“The variants loom at a time when Covid-19 cases are declining and people are weary of precautions. People must realize that the downward trend could quickly reverse if new variants take hold.”
“The fact of the matter is we are kind of in the dark. We don’t know whether the variants have sneaked in as there is no rigorous genetic surveillance system for tracking the variants.
Detecting variants and knowing where and how widely they are spreading could be critical to preventing another deadly wave of Covid-19 like the one we saw earlier,” said Dr Nisar.