WHO labels a Covid strain in India as a ‘variant of concern’
- Early studies that have yet to be peer-reviewed suggest increased transmissibility and reduced neutralization, the UN health agency said.
- While mutations may make the variant more contagious, other factors such as mass rallies and religious festivals that drew millions have also been blamed for India’s second wave of infections.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified B.1.617 variant of coronavirus that was firstly reported from India –as a variant of concern– the country has aggressively initiated clinical studies to ascertain if the strain is behind the exponential surge of fresh covid-19 cases.
The Indian Council of Medical Research has said that variant is highly transmissible but if it’s virulent enough to cause a rapid surge in covid-19 cases is not sure. “The variant was firstly reported from India but it was simultaneously also reported in other parts of the world. It may be highly transmissible, but there is no clinical data to show that it is highly virulent. Epidemiological studies show that it is transmissible but we need to conduct more studies to prove its virulence and causative of the rise in covid-19 numbers,” said Dr. Samiran Panda, head, epidemiology, and communicable diseases, ICMR. He added that Covaxin can neutralise the B1617 variant.