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Indian COVID-19 variant found in 44 countries, Britain reports most cases: WHO

The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 had been detected in more than 4,500 samples from 44 countries in all six WHO regions.

India COVID-19 variant

(Image Source: Reuters)

Updated: May 12, 2021, 10:03 AM IST

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the ‘Indian strain’ of the COVID-19 or the double mutant variant which has triggered a second wave in India, has been detected in at least 44 countries around the world.

The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October, had been detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open-access database ‘from 44 countries in all six WHO regions’.

The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 or the ‘Indian strain’, feared to be contributing to a surge in cases in India, was designated as a ‘variant of concern’ by WHO. It was therefore added to the list containing three other variants of COVID-19, those first detected in Britain, Brazil, and South Africa.

The variants are seen as more dangerous than the original version of the virus because they are either being more transmissible, deadly, or able to get past some vaccine protections. As per WHO, outside India Britain had reported the largest number of COVID-19 cases caused by the variant.

The WHO explained Wednesday that B.1.617 was added to the list because it appears to be transmitted more easily than the original virus, pointing to the ‘rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries’.

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.

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

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