The World Health Organization (WHO) has informed that the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, first found in India in October last year, had been detected in sequences uploaded “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions”.
“As of 11 May, over 4500 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID (platform of data sharing mechanism for influenza) and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries,” WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic. The WHO report also said that it has received “reports of detections from five additional countries.
The coronavirus variant B.1.617 first identified in India last year has been classified as a “variant of global concern”, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily, a senior WHO official had said earlier. After India, the B.1.617 variant has been majorly found in the UK.
“B.1.617 virus variant that was first identified in India has been classified as a variant of interest by WHO,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.
Dr Kerkhove added that WHO needs much more information about this B1617 variant and all of the sub-lineages. “Our Epi teams and our lab teams internally, there is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B1617, as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said.
The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of “global concern”.
India reported 3,29,942 new COVID-19 cases and 3,876 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Argentina’s Health Ministry has confirmed its first cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variants discovered in India. The variant was found in three travelers returning to the South American country from Europe.
The Indian variant of the coronavirus was detected in two minors who returned from Paris, while the South African variant was found in a 58-year-old passenger returning from Spain.
The three passengers arrived at Buenos Aires’ international airport on April 24 and were quarantined in a hotel.
B.1.617 Spreads Widely
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 is the world’s second-most infected after the United States with nearly 23 million Covid-19 cases. India is currently recording more than 300,000 new cases and close to 4,000 deaths each day.
(With ANI Inputs)