New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: After classifying the Indian variant of coronavirus, B.1.617, as the 'variant of concern' (VOC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday said that the existing vaccines, drugs, therapeutics and diagnostics are very much effective against the variant, which was first identified in India, earlier in March.

"Based on what WHO knows so far as per discussions with experts globally, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics continue to be effective against B.1.617 variant (of COVID-19), which WHO has classified as a variant of concern," WHO Representative to India, Dr Roderico H Ofrin said as quoted by news agency ANI.

The B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 raised concerns after preliminary studies showed that the mutation spreads more rapidly and is 70 per cent more infectious than the other strains of COVID-19 found in Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) and the original virus.

The B.1.617 variant has also been classified as the variant of global concern by the WHO on Monday. The B.1.617 mutation of the Covid-19 is the fourth variant to be designated as one of global concern that requires more tracking and analysis. The three others strains were first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

"B1617 virus variant that was first identified in India has been classified as a variant of interest by WHO," said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at the WHO. "Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sublineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done," she added.

The variant has already spread to more than 30 countries, according to the WHO. A mutation is elevated from a "variant of interest" to a "variant of concern" (VOC) when it shows evidence of fulfilling at least one of several criteria, including easy transmission, more severe illness, reduced neutralisation by antibodies or reduced effectiveness of treatment and vaccines.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Monday (local time), as quoted by ANI, said that studies were underway in India to examine the variant's transmissibility, the severity of the disease it causes and the response of antibodies in people who have been vaccinated.

The WHO scientist called for more genome sequencing in India to get a full picture of what is going on in different parts of the country while saying that it should be hand-in-hand with clinical epidemiological studies. "Sequencing does not give you the full picture. You do not know whether it is more transmissible, whether it causes more severe disease or what impact it has on your diagnostics," she said.

 

(With ANI Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan