India has announced that the “double mutant variant” of the coronavirus first discovered in March may be linked to a deadly second wave.
Samples containing the mutant – or B.1.617 variant – have been found in several states with high case numbers.
An official with the National Centre for Disease Control said, they are still unable to fully establish a correlation.
India reported a record 412,000 cases in the space of 24 hours on Wednesday, and 3,980 deaths.
The government’s top scientific adviser also warned a third wave is inevitable.
Speaking at a health ministry news briefing, K VijayRaghavan admitted that experts had not anticipated the “ferocity” of the surge in cases.
The current surge of the virus has already overwhelmed the healthcare system with hospital beds, oxygen and even crematorium space in short supply.
Several states are under localized lockdowns and curfews, but the government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, for fear of the impact on the economy.
Where has the ‘double mutant’ variant been found?
Out of roughly 13,000 samples sequenced, more than 3,500 were found to be variants of concern – including B.1.617 – across eight states.
The B.1.617 variant was reported in several states reporting surges including Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
Meanwhile for more than a month, Delhi insisted that the variant had no link to the current surge.