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COVID-19 variant B.1.617 from India detected in 44 countries: WHO

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed on Wednesday that the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, which was first found in India in October last year, had been detected in sequences uploaded “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions”.

Medics prepare before collecting samples for swab tests from a Covid-19 mobile testing van, during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, at Ramakrishna Mission area in New Delhi. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)
Medics prepare before collecting samples for swab tests from a Covid-19 mobile testing van, during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, at Ramakrishna Mission area in New Delhi. (Source: PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed on Wednesday that the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, which was 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.

Medical staff treats COVID-19 patients at ICU in Hyderabad, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (PTI Photo)

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The World Health Organisation report also revealed that it has received “reports of detections from five additional countries”.

The COVID-19 variant B.1.617 first identified in India back in 2020, has been classified as a “variant of global concern”, with few preliminary research showing that it spreads more easily, a senior WHO official had said on May 10.

“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.

However, she added that the Indian COVID variant, known as B.1.617, has been identified in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original COVID virus and that there are a few evidences which shows it may have the ability to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines.

ALSO READ: WHO classifies COVID-19 strain in India as ‘variant of concern’

“And as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said during a press conference. “Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”

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