Indian Covid Strain 'Variant of Concern'

Indian Covid Strain 'Variant of Concern'

Inoculation at district hospital in New Delhi, India, on April 22, 2021.

The World Health Organisation has said the B.1.617 Covid variant first identified in India past year was being classified as a variant of global concern.

"Hubristic" to believe just three cases of Indian. Death toll has been hovering around the 4,000 mark per day.

India's healthcare system is close to breaking point.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed two cases in Gauteng and two in KwaZulu-Natal of the B.1.617.2 Covid-19 variant which is circulating in India.

The WHO has said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India in December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.

Despite the concerns about the effects of the mutations, researchers have said the vaccines still offer some protection against the virus and the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. "As such, we're classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level".

He said of the four cases of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India, two were found in Gauteng and two in KZN.

World Health Organization is concerned about the number of cases and deaths in India. In India, criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, which allowed hundreds of thousands to gather at a large religious festival and held campaign rallies even as the virus surged.

The most glaring development was that the United Kingdom variant had been detected in a sequence from a community transmission.

While India is now trying to scale up vaccination to rein in the outbreak, Swaminathan warned that the jabs alone would not be enough to gain control of the situation.

With that prospect, Swaminathan stressed that "for the foreseeable future, we need to depend on our tried and tested public health and social measures" to bring down transmission.

Scientists warn that if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked in parts of the world with lower vaccine coverage, unsafe variants will continue to evolve, threatening all countries.

Suliman said that from his understanding, the "Indian variant" was highly transmissible but not necessarily more unsafe than the variant dominant in South Africa.

The NICD believes the current COVID-19 vaccines remain effective when it comes to the new variant first picked up in the United Kingdom, but more data is needed to analyse their response to the variant identified in India.

The ministry had sent swab samples of some people to the World Health Organization's collaborating centre in Hong Kong for whole genome sequencing, which showed that the United Kingdom variant of the virus was dominant in a majority of cases.

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