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COVID-19: New AP Strain seems at least 15 times more virulent

Experts also point out that unlike during the first wave, a shorter exposure is enough to acquire the virus, which enables an infected person to infect four to five persons, within a shorter contact span.

COVID-19: New AP Strain seems at least 15 times more virulent
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According to the latest reports, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has discovered a new variant named N440K, that might be responsible for creating havoc in Visakhapatnam and other parts of the State, experts said.

However, it is too early to conclude that the new variant, which is also called the AP strain, is behind the huge surge in some parts of the state.

It was first discovered in Kurnool and is said to be at least 15 times more virulent than the earlier ones, and maybe even stronger than the Indian variants of B1.617 and B1.618.

Experts also point out that unlike during the first wave, a shorter exposure is enough to acquire the virus, which enables an infected person to infect four to five persons, within a shorter contact span.

District Collector V Vinay Chand, who is updated about the developments by senior doctors in the health department was quoted by The Hindu as saying: “We are still to ascertain, which strain is in circulation right now, as samples have been sent to CCMB for analysis. But one thing is certain that the variant at present which is in circulation in Visakhapatnam is quite different from what we have seen during the first wave last year.”

Meanwhile, confirming the enhanced power of the virus, District COVID Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College P.V. Sudhakar said that they observed that the new variant has a shorter incubation period and the progress of the disease is much rapid. In the earlier cases, a patient affected with COVID-19 would take at least a week to reach the hypoxia or dyspnea stage, but now patients are reaching the serious condition-stage within three or four days. Sudhakar added that it has led to pressure on beds with oxygen and ICU beds.

According to the experts, the bottom line is — this variant is highly unpredictable. The best way to keep it at bay is to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour of wearing a good mask, keeping away from gatherings, sanitising hands regularly and staying home as far as possible, experts suggested.

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