The double mutation of a Covid-19 variant discovered in India is of grave concern — and could spread to other countries, according to Dr. Kavita Patel, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution.
"It is something to watch very closely, and something that will not be limited to India. It is something we will likely see around the world as we have with other variants," she told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Monday.
India's health ministry said last week that a variant with two mutations — known as E484Q and L452R — was found in the country. The mutations are not new, but the variant in India carries both of them —something that has not been seen in other variants.
The mutations could make the virus more contagious and better at evading the body's defenses.
A health worker administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Bhopal, India, March 25, 2021.
STR | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
"This double mutation, number one, it is incredibly serious. Number two, it is probably just the tip of the iceberg in what we would worry about in Asia," said Patel, who is also a former Obama administration official.
She said the mutations could lead to reinfections since the body's immune system won't recognize it and therefore cannot effectively fight it.
Patel also said she would be concerned about the implications of the mutation if she were an Asian health official, and would think about how to get vaccines to as many people as possible.
Indian authorities said Covid variants, including the double mutation strain, have not been detected in such large numbers that are sufficient to explain the spike in new infections.