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WHO Elevates Indian Variant of COVID-19 to ‘Variant of Concern’

The WHO said that the B.1.617 variant of COVID seemed to be transmitting more easily than the original version.

Published
COVID-19
2 min read
Coronavirus variants. Image used for representational purposes.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday, 10 May, said that one version of the Indian variant of COVID-19, which has been spreading rapidly, appears to be more contagious and has been classified as being "a variant of concern", reported AFP.

The WHO said that the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 seemed to be transmitting more easily than the original version of the virus.

Maria Van Kerkove, the WHO’s lead on COVID-19 also told reporters that early studies were “suggesting that there is some reduced neutralisation”.

"As such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level," she said, and added that the WHO’s weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday would provide more details, reported AFP.

UK Elevates Indian Variant of COVID-19 to ‘Variant of Concern’

Last week, Public Health England (PHE) had said that one version of the Indian variant of COVID-19 has been elevated to a “variant of concern.”

PHE said that the variant would be categorised as one “of concern” over the evidence that it was more transmissible, reported Reuters. However, it said that there is "insufficient evidence" to establish if the variant causes more severe infections.

“There is currently insufficient evidence to indicate that any of the variants recently detected in India cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective,” PHE said in a statement.

Scientists are now carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of the mutations on the behaviour of the virus.

Reacting to this, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, 7 May said that the government needs to carefully handle the outbreak of ‘the India variant’ of COVID-19 in the UK, reported BBC.

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The Indian Variant

The ‘India variant’, officially labelled as B.1.617, was first detected in October.

As per experts, genome sequencing indicated that the variant was the possible culprit behind India’s vicious surge in infections.

So far colloquially referred to as the 'double mutant' in India, is actually a variant with two prominent mutations. The two most notable mutations in this variant are E484Q and L452R and these have been spotted before in California and Brazil.

B.1.617 has been reported from at least 21 countries and data suggests it is the prominent variant in parts of north India and Maharashtra.

(With inputs from AFP.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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