WHO: Indian COVID-19 mutant, a variant of global concern
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the double mutant COVID-19 in India as a variant of global concern.
The Monday classification followed research which indicates that the variant spreads more easily.
Scientists are attributing the crisis that is ravaging the South Asian country to the variant known as B.1.617.
India is witnessing an exponential surge in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
According to data from the government, India’s COVID-19 fatalities have topped 250,000 with the country recording at least 300,000 infections daily and an average of 4,000 deaths.
B.1.617 is the fourth to be categorised as a variant of global concern by the global health body. Other variants under this class are those variants that were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
The mutant, B.1.617 was first detected in India in October, 2020.
Officials are worried that the mutant could be dodging the vaccines given that it combines several mutations in the spike protein that could help the virus evade the human body’s immune system.
“There is some available information to suggest some increased transmissibility of B.1.617,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the WHO’s coronavirus response, said at a news briefing Monday.
WHO is set to release more information about the variant.
Meanwhile India reported 329,942 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, as the caseload inches closer to 23 million. It was the second day in a row that the country reported less than 400,000 new infections. At the same time, health officials reported 3,876 deaths Tuesday. Since April 28, India has been reporting more than 3,000 daily COVID-19 deaths