WHO – 44 countries report cases of Indian Covid variant
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that a variant of Covid-19 behind the acceleration of India’s explosive outbreak has been found in dozens of countries all over 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 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions.
Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617, which counts three so-called sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics as a ‘variant of concern’. It was therefore added to the list containing three other variants of Covid-19 — those first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.
WHO said the spread of B.1.617, alongside other more transmittable variants, appeared to be one of several factors fuelling India’s dramatic surge in new cases and deaths.
India – a country of 1.3 billion people is the world’s second-most infected after the United States with nearly 23 million Covid-19 cases, and is currently recording more than 300,000 new cases and close to 4,000 deaths each day. The new surge in cases has ravaged major cities, including the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, pushing hospitals to breaking point and leading to severe shortages in oxygen and beds.