World Health Organization classifies India variant as being of global concern

WHO classifies India variant as being of global concern

"Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern".

The World Health Organization on Monday elevated the B.1.617 strain from a 'variant to interest, ' to a 'variant to concern, ' citing early studies suggesting increased transmissibility.

Health agencies escalate or de-escalate variants as scientific evidence evolves, a CDC spokesperson said in a statement, adding that USA classifications of variants may not align with those of the WHO "since the importance of variants may differ by location". "We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency", tweeted WHO South-East Asia.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dubbed B.1.617 a "variant of interest" - a less urgent designation - last week.

The Philippines has also previously recorded cases of a variant first detected in Britain and another first discovered in South Africa, as well as a homegrown P.3 variant.

The UN body routinely assesses if variants of SARS-CoV-2 result in changes in transmissibility and severity, or if they lead to changes in public health and social measures' implementation by national health authorities. Coronavirus live updates Religious events, poll rallies fuelled surge, say expertsThe WHO study comes amid calls for nationwide restrictions in India to try to limit the death toll, as hospitals are overrun and crematories burn nonstop.

The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from India (26,820 new deaths; 1.9 new deaths per 100.000; a 15% increase), Indonesia (1190 new deaths; 0.4 new deaths per 100,000; a 3% increase), and Bangladesh (368 new deaths; 0.2 new deaths per 100,000; a 34% decrease). It has been added to the list as it seems to be transmitting faster and more easily than the original virus and, thus, hints towards the "rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries".

Preliminary evidence suggests potential reduced effectiveness of Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody used for COVID-19 treatment, and potentially slightly reduced susceptibility to neutralisation antibodies, it said.

Viruses in the B.1.617 lineage were first reported in India in October 2020.

In addition, other more contagious variants are also spreading in the country, including B.1.1.7, which was first detected in Britain.

The exact contributions of each of these factors on increased transmission in India are not well understood.

By the end of April, B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 accounted for 21 and seven percent respectively of all sequenced samples from India, it said.

'Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant and this lineage and all of the sub-lineages, ' she said.

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