The B1617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of global interest and requiring further monitoring and analysis. The others are those first detected in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil. “We classify this as a variant of global concern,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO COVID-19 technical officer, said in a briefing. “Some available information suggests increased transmissibility. “
India’s coronavirus infections and deaths hit near daily record levels on Monday, increasingly calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to lock down the world’s second most populous country.
WHO said the predominant line of B1617 was first identified in India in December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.
The variant has already spread to other countries and many countries have decided to reduce or restrict movements from India.
WATCH | A doctor in India describes the current predicament:
Studies on a variant underway in India
Van Kerkhove said more information on the variant and its three sublines would be available on Tuesday.
“Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need a lot more information about this variant of the virus and this lineage and all the sublines,” she said.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said studies were underway in India to examine the transmissibility of the variant, the severity of the disease it causes and the antibody response in those vaccinated.
“What we know now is that the vaccines work, that the diagnostics work, that the same treatments that are used for the regular virus work, so there’s really no need to change any of those- ci, ”Swaminathan said.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO Foundation is launching a “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to purchase oxygen, medicine and protective equipment for health workers.