World Health Organization adds variant detected in India to list

James Marshall
April 29, 2021

The variant is believed to be one reason for the recent surge of infections in India.

It urged health authorities across the world to report on cases involving the variant.

The WHO recently listed B.1.617 - which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics - as a "variant of interest". "Three characteristic mutations of this variant include L452R, P681R, and E484Q".

"Indeed, studies have highlighted that the spread of the second wave has been much faster than the first", the WHO said, underscoring that although "other drivers" could be contributing to the surge, comprising mass gatherings, and lax observance of public health measures.

"Further investigation is needed to understand the relative contribution of these factors", it said.

Ontario has a rigorous and widespread screening program to detect the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, the P.1 variant first found in Brazil and the B.1.353 variant first discovered in South Africa, with a majority of all positive samples run through screening to determine their likely lineage.

Both B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 were first identified in India in December 2020, and have been detected at increasing prevalence concurrent to the major upsurge observed in the country.

Initial research from India suggests that B.1.617 causes more severe infection and outcomes in younger patients than previous variants circulating in that country.

Roque, who also serves as the spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said passengers in transit from India and all those who have been to the same within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before April 29, "shall not be subject to the above restriction".

It stressed that other variants circulating at the same time were also showing increased transmissibility, and that the combination "may be playing a role in the current resurgence in this country".

The total number has risen to 800,452, while the death toll is 17,187.

With 52 per cent increase, India has reported the highest number of new cases (21,72,063) followed by the USA (406,001 new cases; 15 per cent decrease), Brazil (404,623 new cases; 12 per cent decrease), Turkey (378,771 new cases; 9 per cent decrease), and France (211,674 new cases; 9 per cent decrease).

India has now reported 18 million infections, an increase of 360,000 in 24 hours, which is a new world record.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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