World Health Organization confirms COVID-19 variant B.1.617 has three sub-lineages

Medics tend to a man with breathing problems inside a COVID-19 ward of a government-run hospital amidst the coronavirus disease pandemic in Bijnor district Uttar Pradesh India

Medics tend to a man with breathing problems inside a COVID-19 ward of a government-run hospital amidst the coronavirus disease pandemic in Bijnor district Uttar Pradesh India

The update said that outside of India, the United Kingdom has reported the largest number of cases sequenced as B.1.617 sub-lineages, and recently designated B.1.617.2 as a "national variant of concern".

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. "We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency", tweeted WHO South-East Asia.

"The resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has raised questions on the potential role of B.1.617 and other variants (e.g., B.1.1.7) in circulation", the update said.

In fact, the word "Indian" has not been used in its report on the matter, the ministry added. "We will continue to see variants emerge, variants of concern around the world and we must do everything we can to really limit the spread", added the Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.

"As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level", she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dubbed B.1.617 a "variant of interest" - a less urgent designation - last week.

The Indian variant is the fourth classified "of concern" by the World Health Organization, after the variants detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.

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You've got to give them credit. "I mean, to have people not have oxygen is really tragic, what's going on over there", he said. India is now experiencing a devastating surge of COVID-19 with record-breaking cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

That danger stems from a variant's higher transmissibility, lethality and resistance to vaccines, or either of them.

It also cited preliminary research suggesting that the variant could compromise the effects of medications and neutralizing antibodies. "On May 4, 2021, the B.1.617, B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2, and B.1.617.3 lineages were classified as variants of interests by CDC, in collaboration with the SIG, but variant status might escalate or deescalate based on scientific evidence".

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

These include an increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility, several religious and political mass gathering events which increased social mixing, reduced adherence to public health and social measures.

Approximately 0.1 per cent of positive samples in India have been sequenced and uploaded to GISAID to identify SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The prevalence of several VOCs, including the B.1.1.7 and B.1.612 sub-lineages, increased concurrent to the surge in COVID-19 cases reported in India, according to WHO.

But according to Outbreak.info, which track the result of global genetic sequencing - a test performed to see what mutations a viral sample contains - suggest that about two percent of US samples tested Monday were positive for B.1.617.2's mutations. "This is important, what we do, even though there is increased transferability demonstrated by some preliminary study, we need much more information on this variant".

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