COVID-19’s double mutant strain in India a ‘variant of concern’, says WHO

A total of four variants of the coronavirus have been classified as ‘variants of concern’, those that emerged in Brazil, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Created On: May 11, 2021 12:16 ISTModified On: May 11, 2021 12:16 IST
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead, WHO, Source: ANI

The World Health Organization (WHO) on May 10, 2021, announced that the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2, also known as the Indian variant or double mutant, is a ‘variant of concern’ at the global level.

WHO said that the double mutant strain has been found to be transmitting more easily than the original version of COVID-19.

The Indian variant, B.1.617, was first identified in India last October in 2020 and since then has been spotted across 32 counties. A total of four variants of the coronavirus have been classified as ‘variants of concern’, those that emerged in Brazil, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

The COVID-19 Technical Lead at WHO, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said that the WHO lab team and EPI team are in discussion with the WHO virus evolution group to understand everything in terms of the transmissibility of the double mutant strain. “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B.1.617,” she said.

She further added that some preliminary studies have demonstrated increased transmissibility of the strain but “we need much more information about this virus strain in this lineage, so we need more targeted sequencing to be done, and to be shared in India and elsewhere so that we know how much of this virus is circulating”.

Kherkhove also stated the epidemiologic studies that evaluate neutralization severity are underway. “So far, the WHO does not have any evidence to suggest that our therapeutics or diagnostics and our vaccines don’t work,” she added.

She further emphasized that we must do everything and take individual-level measures to limit the spread of the virus. “We will continue to see variants emerge. We need to make sure that we take all the measures to prevent ourselves from getting sick,” she added.

India COVID-19 tracker

India, on May 11, 2021, has reported 2,29,92,517 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 37,15,221 active cases and 2,49,992 deaths.

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