Fact Check: Has India Detected A New Dangerous COVID-19 Stra
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A message has been circulating on WhatsApp, enumerating various inputs related to the COVID-19 surge in India, claiming to be a press release issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The message contains information regarding a number of new virus strains from abroad that are associated with ‘immune escape’ and can reinfect people who were previously diagnosed with or vaccinated against COVID-19.

It further claims that the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) has detected 771 variants of concerns in a total of 10787 positive samples sequenced, of which 736 have come from the UK, 34 from South Africa and 1 from Brazil. As per the message, the variants have been reported in the southern states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The Truth:

The claims made in the message regarding the mutated COVID-19 strains spreading in India is completely false as the Health Ministry has not issued any Press Release in this regard. A PIB Fact Check has clarified that the message circulating on WhatsApp is indeed fake, making citizens aware of such misleading information about the virus.

Last month, the Union health ministry said the new double mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in Delhi, Maharashtra and some other places in addition to the three "variants of concern" first noticed in the UK, South Africa and Brazil that have been found in at least 18 states and union territories.

ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava also said of 11,064 genome samples sequenced in the country, the UK variant of the virus was detected in 807, the South African variant in 47 and the Brazilian variant was found in one.

Both the vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin- are effective against the UK and the Brazillian variants and the work against the South African variant is ongoing at several laboratories," he said. Bhargava further said that mutations are sporadic and single mutations are not found to be dominant in any particular area in India.

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