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Should the India COVID variant scare us?

In India, a COVID-19 variant has a prevalence of less than 10 percent while in Europe there are a few hundred cases. The variant has two known mutations, but for the first time, they are coexisting as a single strain.

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  1. Countries are banning travel from India into their own nations as the “India” COVID variant is running rampant there.
  2. In India, there have been 17 million total infections and 192,000 deaths, and currently, every day there are more than 300,000 cases and deaths well over 2,000.
  3. This is the first time the 2 spike proteins of the “India” B.1.617 variant has been identified as one strain.

The “India” COVID variant, B.1.617, was discovered on October 5 in Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located. It has two mutations (already known) in the Spike protein: E484Q and L452R. This is the first time both have appeared in one strain. It is feared that the variable could also represent a danger for other countries. So much so that the Italy Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, signed an ordinance on April 21, 2021, prohibiting entry into Italy to those who have been in India for the last 14 days before departure, except for Indian workers who officially reside in Italy. All travelers are under obligation to undergo a swab test on departure and on arrival within 48 hours in the city of residence in Italy.

Following an investigation carried out by the author of this article at Rome Fiumicino airport a week before the April 21 ordinance, passengers arriving from India were only subjected to thermal control. They were then free to go on their way. At the Roma Termini railway station, they were asked to fill out a form before boarding the train. It is not known if Fiumicino will be equipped to carry out the swab test on arrival.

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