Kashmir’s new mutant can cause reinfections, claims doctors’ association

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After the detection of N440K mutant in Kashmir, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Saturday said people who have recovered from Covid-19 could be reinfected with the mutated strain of the novel coronavirus.

“Those who have got Covid-19 infection could get sick again with the new variant,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement.

“The N440K mutant that is dominant in some of the Indian states has found its way into the valley,” he said.

Quoting research conducted by the Kurnool Medical College in Andhra Pradesh, Dr Nisar said N440K variant can escape the immune response and can cause reinfection.

“The conclusion was based on the study of the two reported cases of reinfection – found in Noida and Kurnool – which showed the presence of the variant in them,” he said.

“This resistance of the N440K mutant to the neutralizing antibodies could have implications on the effectiveness of the currently available vaccines which needs to be seen,” he added.

DAK President said the variant has been found at a time when Covid is raging again in the valley.

“More genetic testing will only tell whether N440K is the driving force behind the resurgence of cases,” he said.

“In Kashmir, genome sequencing has been done on 381 samples, when the Union government’s recommendation is to sequence a minimum of 5 percent of all Covid positive cases – that means around 8,000 samples from the current tally of over 1.57 lakh cases,” Dr Hassan said.

He said a total of 19 genetic variants of Covid-19 have been found in India that have evolved to evade neutralizing antibodies.

Out of the 19 immune escape variants in India, N440K variant, which appears to have evolved during the recent months induces reinfection.

“The variant is spreading a lot more in southern states of India,” said Dr Nisar.

The mutant of concern has been found in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana,” he said adding “in Andhra Pradesh the strain was found in 33 percent of sequenced samples.”(GNS)

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