New Delhi: The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be much more dangerous than the first in more than a few ways. One of the biggest causes for concern today is that the virus has taken the form of numerous variants, different from the original one.

Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Friday (April 16) explained the threat posed by the new double mutant COVID-19 virus that is posing a tough challenge in front of the medics and scientists.

He discussed how the double mutant virus is different from the original COVID-19 virus and how it is formed.

Changes occur in any virus and it is a natural process. Imagine that the coronavirus is a round-shaped ball with thorns attached to it. These spikes contain the genetic material of the virus. Genetic material means the DNA or the RNA of the virus. The coronavirus contains a single-stranded RNA genome.

Think of it like RNA is the address of this virus. Now the challenge is that this address changes constantly. There are constant changes in the virus, and this is called mutation. Due to mutation, a new strain of the virus is formed, and it creates a distinct identity of its own. This is how the double mutant of the coronavirus is formed.

Simply put, double mutant means that two different strains of the virus come together and take a new form, and becomes a new variant.

The variant which is currently troubling India is made up of two strains – one from the California state of America and the other one is from India itself.

The National Center for Disease Control of India had informed about this double mutant virus as early as March. It spread rapidly and has become the reason for the unprecedented rise in the number of cases.

So far, the virus has been detected in 10 states including Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh.

The two major threats associated with the double mutant virus that has been detected so far are: 1. High infection rate, and 2. It can cause severe damage to the immunity system in very little time.

In the last few days, the positive rate of infected patients in the country has increased significantly. On March 25, the positivity rate in the country was 4.96 percent while it has reached 5.42 percent today.

Several other variants of coronavirus have also been detected in India so far. It includes the UK variant, the South African variant as well as the Brazilian variant.

These different variants are now targeting children and youth as well. Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, children and young people were less affected in India. Even among those who caught the infection, most of them recovered without going to the hospital.

However, this time the virus is attacking children and youth more. According to an estimate, one out of every five new cases being detected is of children and youth.

At present, a large number of patients, about 25.99 percent, in the country are from 21 to 30 years old, while 9.79 percent of children between the ages of 11 and 20 are infected. 4.42 percent of children 10 years of age or younger are struggling with the virus. This suggests that the number of children and youth getting affected is more than that of those in the 70-year age category.

The new threat is wreaking havoc across the nation, paralyzing the healthcare systems. In such times, people need to be more careful than ever.

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