Researchers say other factors could lead to more infections among young people, such as schools in India, which reopened in recent months after the first wave in the country.
In India the variant is sometimes referred to as a “double mutant”, although the name is a misnomer because it contains many more mutations than two. It is named because one of its three copies contains two gene mutations found in other difficult-to-control variants of the Coronavirus. One is the highly contagious species that appeared in California earlier this year. The other is similar to that in the variant that was first identified in South Africa and is believed to make vaccines somewhat less effective.
“There are more transferable variants than we all covered a year ago,” said Dr. Barrett of the many variants prevalent in India. “Things can change very quickly, so if a country doesn’t respond quickly enough, it can go from bad to bad very quickly.”
Scientists say different species seem to dominate certain parts of India. For example, variant B.1.617 was detected in a large number of samples from central Maharashtra.
In contrast, the B.1.1.7 variable is rising rapidly in New Delhi, said Dr Sujit Singh, director of the National Center for Disease Control in India. It occurred in half of the samples evaluated at the end of March, up from 28 percent just two weeks ago. He added that variant B.1.617 is also being marketed in New Delhi.
In the end, however, the data from India is too weak to analyze the distribution of the variables across the country. Despite the huge number of new infections, India is doing very little genetic sequencing.