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Indian variant of Covid-19 found in 44 countries: WHO | India News


GENEVA: The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that a Covid-19 variant has been found behind the acceleration of India’s explosive outbreak in dozens of countries around the world.
The UN health agency said Covid-19 variant B.1.617, first found in India in October, had been detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open access database “from 44 countries in the six WHO regions “.
“And the WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries,” it said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
Outside of India, he said Britain had reported the highest number of Covid cases caused by the variant.
Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617, which counts three putative sublineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics, as a “variant of concern.”
Therefore, it was added to the list containing three other variants of Covid-19, which were first detected in Great Britain, Brazil and South Africa.
The variants are considered more dangerous than the original version of the virus because they are more transmissible, deadly, or may overcome some vaccine protections.
The WHO explained Wednesday that B.1.617 was added to the list because it appears to be transmitted more easily than the original virus, pointing to “rapid increases in prevalence in several countries.”
The WHO also noted “preliminary evidence” that the variant was more resistant to treatment with the monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab, and also highlighted early laboratory studies indicating “a limited reduction in antibody neutralization.”
However, he stressed that the “real-world impacts” on the effectiveness of vaccines against the variant, for example, “may be limited.”
The WHO said the spread of B.1.617, along with other more communicable variants, appears to be one of several factors fueling India’s dramatic rise in new cases and deaths.
India, a country of 1.3 billion people, is the second most infected country in the world after the United States with almost 23 million cases of Covid-19, and currently has more than 300,000 new cases and close to 4,000 deaths per day.
The new surge in cases has devastated major cities, including the capital New Delhi, and the financial center of Mumbai, pushing hospitals to breaking point and causing severe oxygen and bed shortages.
“The WHO found that the resurgence and acceleration of Covid-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including the increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility,” he said.
He also noted “various mass gathering religious and political events that increased social mixing; and underutilization and reduced adherence to public health and social measures.”
“The exact contributions of each of these factors to the increase in transmission in India are not well understood.”
The WHO emphasized that so far, only 0.1 percent of positive Covid tests in India had been genetically sequenced and uploaded to the GISAID database to identify the variant in question.
At 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, he said.
In addition, other more contagious variants are also spreading in the country, including B.1.1.7, which was first detected in Great Britain.

Times of India