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World Health Organization says Covid-19 virus variant in India 'of global concern'

World Health Organization says Covid-19 virus variant in India 'of global concern'”

While there has been a small increase in the overall number of positive Covid-19 cases in NI, it is understood health officials at this stage are not overly concerned.

The World Health Organization on Monday elevated the B.1.617 strain from a 'variant to interest, ' to a 'variant to concern, ' citing early studies suggesting increased transmissibility. Based on reports from hospitals, Kang said it appeared that B.1.617 was causing more severe disease but that, again, there was insufficient data to draw conclusions.

"WHO does not identify viruses or variants with names of countries they are first reported from".

Therefore, reports associating the strain with India "are without any basis, and unfounded", it added.

"A recent risk assessment of the situation in India conducted by WHO found that resurgence and acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility; several religious and political mass gathering events which increased social mixing; and, under use of and reduced adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM)".

"We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency", WHO South-East Asia said in a tweet. "There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility".

"As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level", she said.

More news: World Health Organization classifies Indian coronavirus mutation as a 'variant of concern'

The WHO insisted though that it was far too early to interpret this to mean that the variant might have more resistance to vaccine protections.

These variants are seen as more unsafe than the original version of the virus, being either more transmissible, deadlier or not as susceptible to vaccines. It has been added to the list as it seems to be transmitting faster and more easily than the original virus and, thus, hints towards the "rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries".

Preliminary analyses conducted by the World Health Organization, using sequences submitted by India to a global database, suggest that B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 have a substantially higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India.

Studies on antibodies produced by vaccinated people also suggest that they work less successfully against B.1.617.

It has for some time been feared that B.1.617 - which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics - might be contributing to the alarming spread.

"The resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has raised questions on the potential role of B.1.617 and other variants (e.g., B.1.1.7) in circulation", the update said. Other studies suggest that the case numbers increased more rapidly during the most recent surge when variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.617 were circulating, compared to the first wave between June and October past year.

By the end of April, B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 accounted for 21 and seven percent respectively of all sequenced samples from India, it said.



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