Fact Check: Are New Coronavirus Mutant Strains Behind Rise In COVID-19 Cases In India? Here’s The Truth

Some states  including Maharashtra and Kerala have observed a surge in coronavirus cases. Soon after, some people on social media started blaming the rise on the new mutant coronavirus variants that have come in the country.

Some Facebook posts suggest that the upsurge of COVID-19 cases is due to the UK variant and South African variant of coronavirus that have been detected in some parts of the country including Kerala and Maharashtra.

One such post is this, which can be seen here.

The caption of the post reads, An exhaustive genomic study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has indicated that the virus variant N440K is spreading a lot more in South India.”

“The study could hold the key in understanding the reasons behind the sharp surge in Covid positive cases in Kerala and Maharashtra where the local researchers have already reported the presence of N440K variant in Yavatmal district. A few months ago, the N440K variant was also reported in Andhra Pradesh and even parts of Telangana………..”

NewsMobile Fact Check

NewsMobile fact-checked this post and found it to be misleading.

As per our research, we discovered that several media channels reported that the Centre in the latest coronavirus briefing on Tuesday (February 23, 2021), clarified that although two variants of SARS-CoV-2 — N440K and E484K — have been detected in Maharashtra and Kerala, there is no reason to believe, currently, that they are responsible for the surge in cases in some districts in these two states.

These media reports can be read here, here and here.

Addressing the press, NITI Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul said, “Both the N440K and E484K variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in Maharashtra. In Kerala and Telangana also these variants have been found. Also, three other mutated strains — one each from the UK, South Africa and Brazil are already present in the country. But there is no reason for us to believe, on the basis of scientific information, that they are responsible for the upsurge of the outbreak in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala.”

As of now this clarifies the doubt that the new mutant strains of coronavirus are not causing the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in southern states.

Hence the claim made in this case is proven to be misleading. During a pandemic, misinformation like this spreads faster, hence believe only in authentic information, coming from verified sources like Niti Aayog or the Health Ministry.

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