Indian Covid-19 variant found in 44 countries: WHO
Published: 11:50 AM, 12 May 2021
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the Indian Covid-19 variant that worsened the country’s pandemic situation has been found in a total of 44 countries all over the world.
The UN health agency said on Wednesday that the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, found in India in October, had been detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open-access database “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions”.
“WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries,” it said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617 that counts three so-called sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics as a “variant of concern”.
WHO explained on Wednesday that the B.1.617 was added to the list because it appears to be transmitted more easily than the original virus, pointing to the “rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries”.
WHO also pointed to “preliminary evidence” that the variant was more resistant to treatment with the monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab, and also highlighted early lab studies indicating “limited reduction in neutralization by antibodies”.
It stressed, though, that “real-world impacts” on the effectiveness of vaccines against the variant for instance “may be limited”.
WHO said the spread of B.1.617, alongside other more transmittable variants, appeared to be one of several factors fueling India’s dramatic surge in new cases and deaths.
India is the world’s second-most affected country by the Covid-19 after the United States with nearly 23 million Covid-19 cases and is currently recording more than 300,000 new cases and close to 4,000 deaths each day.
The new surge in cases has ravaged major cities, including the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, pushing hospitals to breaking point and leading to severe shortages in oxygen and beds. – AFP.