WHO: Indian Covid-19 variant already found in 44 countries

Photo: AP

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that a variant of Covid-19 behind the acceleration of India's explosive outbreak has been found in dozens of countries all over the world, AFP reported. The B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, 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 all six WHO regions.

And WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries," it said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic. Outside of India, it said that Britain had reported the largest number of Covid cases caused by the variant.

Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617 as a "variant of concern" and added it to the list containing three other variants of Covid-19 - those first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.

The WHO explained Wednesday that B.1.617 was added to the list because it appears to be transmitting 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 neutralisation 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 fuelling India's dramatic surge in new cases and deaths.

India, a country of 1.3bn people  is the world's second-most infected after the US 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.

 

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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