Covid-19 Indian variant found in 44 countries
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization stated that a variant of Covid-19 behind the acceleration of India’s explosive outbreak. The variant has been found in dozens of countries all over the world. The UN health agency reports that the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, first found in India in October. The variant is detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open-access database “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions.”
“And WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries,” it said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic. It said that Britain reports the largest number of Covid-19 cases caused by the variant that was found in India.
Covid-19 variants poses threats
Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617 which counts three sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics as a “variant of concern.”
Therefore, it was 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.
What causes a virus to change to a new variant?
According to WHO, when a virus is widely circulating in a population and causing many infections. The likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more it replicates and the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.
Most viral mutations have little to no impact on the virus’s ability to cause infections and disease. But depending on where the changes are located in the virus’s genetic material, they may affect a virus’s properties. Such as transmission (for example, it may spread more or less easily) or severity (for example, it may cause more or less severe disease).
Current situation of India with the variant
India, a country where 1.3 billion people reside, 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 are close to 4,000 deaths each day.
The new surge in cases has trampled major cities, including the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, pushing hospitals to suffer massive shortages in oxygen and beds.
“WHO found that resurgence and acceleration of Covid-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including an increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility,” it said.