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Almost 315,000 new corona infections in just one day - this is reported by the Indian government. A so-called double mutant spreads there. But how dangerous is it?

First report from April 26th: The corona situation in India is dramatic. The health system there threatens to collapse under the burden of infections. Because recently the number of new infections every day has skyrocketed: The Indian government reports over 300,000 new infections within a day - this leads to a shortage of drugs and medical oxygen. A new Covid-19 variant is said to be partly to blame, reports echo24.de*, a so-called "double mutant".

And the term “double mutant” is currently gaining massive presence in the German media because it sounds extremely dangerous to many. The mutation B.1.617, which is meant by this, is spreading rapidly in India. B.1.617 has meanwhile also arrived in Baden-Württemberg *, like heidelberg24.de* reported. And what is actually behind the term “double mutant”?

Indian double mutant: do vaccines against the new corona variant still work?

Corona variant B.1.617 is called a "double" mutation because it shows two changes in a surface protein. According to Deutschlandfunk, these two mutations - each individually - are already known from other variants, but have never occurred in a double pack.

The E484Q mutation is therefore similar to a virus change that was already found in the variants from South Africa, Brazil and Great Britain. This is known in expert circles as the so-called "escape mutation" - because it helps the virus to escape the immune system of the human body. That could mean vaccines against this mutation are working less well. The second mutation with the name L452R is known from the Californian Corona variant. According to a study, it is an "efficient disseminator" for the virus.

But is B.1.617 now more dangerous than previous corona mutants? If it comes from the classification of the World Health Organization, probably not. So far, the double mutation has only been under observation at the WHO. It is classified as a "variant of importance". For comparison: the mutations from Brazil, South Africa and Great Britain are all classified as "worrying". In addition, Germany has so far hardly been affected by the new double mutant. In this country, B.1.617 has only been detected 21 times. In India, on the other hand, the mutation is now found in around 60 percent of new corona infections. Nevertheless, German experts also warn.

Corona double mutant also in Germany? That's what German experts say

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, for example, recently described B.1.617 on Twitter as worrying. The variant is spreading faster in Great Britain than all other variants - although there are already many vaccinated there. This development also means a particular danger for Germany, because the British variant B.1.1.7 had already come to the Federal Republic very quickly via the United Kingdom.

Richard Neher, head of the research group Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, on the other hand, told Deutschlandfunk that there was not a lot of data for the variant because it was very rare in Europe. There are also a large number of variants with "remarkable" mutations. Therefore he does not believe “that B.1.617 deserves more attention than other variants.

The virologist Christian Drosten from the Charité in Berlin was also rather optimistic about the Norddeutscher Rundfunk - especially with a view to the German vaccination campaign *. He assumes that the Indian variant - and most of the other "immune escape mutants" - can be brought under control with corona vaccinations. Especially when the existing vaccines received a "slight update".

Indian double mutant: how can it be fought?

Because the double mutation is widespread in India, but according to ntv, the current dramatic situation is probably due to the local corona policy. Because India's government had relaxed the measures significantly in October and November, when the cases began to decline - there were numerous major events at which people crowded without protective masks. Conversely, this means for Germany: keep going!

As the evolutionary virologist Stephen Goldstein from the University of Utah explains, Great Britain and its containment of the British variant must be taken as a model. According to Goldstein, the vaccination campaign certainly played into the hands of the British, but ultimately Great Britain would only have slowed the increase in cases through the lockdown * - and so turned things around. *echo24.de and heidelberg24.de are offered by IPPEN.MEDIA.