October 18, 2021

Only one strain of Covid-19 variant identified in India now of concern: WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday revealed that only one strain of the Covid-19 Delta variant first identified in India was now considered to be “of concern”, and the other stains have been demoted.

The B.1.617 variant of the virus, which has been pointed at for the rapid transmission in India, has been dubbed a triple mutant variant after its split up into three distinct lineages.

In May, the UN health agency announced the entire strain as a “variant of concern” or VOC, however, it clarified on Tuesday that only one of the sub-lineages reserved to be given the label of VOC.

In the weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, the WHO stated, “It has become evident that greater public health risks are currently associated with B.1.617.2, while lower rates of transmission of other lineages have been observed.”

The B.1.617.2 variant continues to be a VOC, alongside the other three variants of the Covid-19 virus which are observed to be deadly than the inherent version due to more transmission factor, deadly or have the capacity to surpass vaccine protections.

To avoid the stigma of naming a virus variant by a country name, it was declared on Monday to use the greek letters, so ‘delta’ has been chosen to name the variant.

The UN agency stated, “We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant.”

The agency added, “Further studies into the impact of this variant remain a high priority for WHO.”

In line with this, a novel variant identified in Vietnam on Saturday is a variation of the Delta variant.

While addressing the reporters, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said, “What we understand is that it is this B.1.617.2 variant with one additional deletion in the location of the spike protein.”

She further added, “We know that the B.1.617.2, the Delta variant, does have increased transmissibility, which means it can spread easier between people.”

The B.1.617.1 sub-lineage has been demoted to a “variant of interest,” and indicated as delta. And the B.1.617.3 variant does not enter the category of interest, according to WHO, as “relatively few reports of this variant have been submitted to date,” and has not even been allotted with a greek letter.

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