‘Indian Strain’ Of Coronavirus Found In 17 Countries, Says WHO

The studies have highlighted that the spread of the second wave has been much faster than the first in India said, the WHO.

The ‘Indian strain’ of the coronavirus that is also known as B.1.617 or a ‘double mutant’, has been found in at least 17 countries, said the WHO. WHO’s remark came as the world grapples to contain the surge in the Covid-19 cases with 5.7 million infections detected last week, surpassing previous peaks.

It has been designated as the Variants of Interest (VOI) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 or the ‘Indian strain’ is feared to be contributing in the rise of coronavirus cases in India said, the UN Health in its weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.

“As of 27 April, over 1,200 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID and assigned to lineage B.1.617 (collectively) from at least 17 countries,” it said, adding that most sequences were uploaded from India, the United Kingdom, USA and Singapore.

GISAID is one such global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants within Pango lineage B.1.617 were recently reported as a VOI from India and have recently been designated as VOIs by WHO,” it said. Hence, the studies have highlighted that the spread of the second wave has been much faster than the first in India said, the WHO.

The report by the global health body said “Preliminary modelling by WHO based on sequences submitted to GISAID suggest that B.1.617 has a higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India, suggesting potential increased transmissibility, with other co-circulating variants also demonstrating increased transmissibility.”

“Other drivers may include challenges around the implementation and adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM), and social gatherings (including mass gatherings during cultural and religious celebrations, and elections). Further investigation is needed to understand the relative contribution of these factors,” it said.

Sujeet Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, had said in a webinar on genome sequencing last week that, in many cities in Maharashtra – the worst-hit state in India – the B.1.617 variant was found in more than 50 per cent of samples on which genome sequencing was conducted.

However, the WHO report says, the B.1.617 variant comprises several sub-lineages, including B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3, which slightly differ by their characteristic mutations.

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