What we know about the Covid-19 variant first found in India, an article on CNN says.
•Corona in India
A coronavirus variant first detected in India in February has now gone global, spreading to dozens of countries and raising fears that the strain will overwhelm health care systems, reverse reopening plans and even potentially undermine the rollout of vaccines.
Experts believe the B.1.617 variant is driving the huge wave of infections seen across India in recent weeks. The country now makes up 50% of Covid-19 cases and 30% of deaths from the virus globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO designated B.1.617 and its sublineages as a “variant of concern” on May 10. That classification means a variant may be more transmissible or cause more severe disease, fail to respond to treatment, evade the immune response, or fail to be diagnosed by standard tests.
B.1.617 was the fourth strain to be declared a “variant of concern” by the WHO; the others are B.1.1.7, which was first seen in the UK; B.1.351, first detected in South Africa; and P.1, first found in Brazil.
•Is it more contagious?
The WHO said B.1.617 showed signs of potentially being more transmissible than some other strains of the virus but cautioned that more research was required. Although Indian officials say the variant is driving the country’s crippling second wave, the WHO has said several other contributing factors such as mass gatherings have likely also contributed to the spread there.
•Is it more deadly?
As of now, there’s no evidence that B.1.617 is causing more severe illness.
“There is currently insufficient evidence to indicate that any of the variants recently detected in India cause more severe disease,” Public Health England said on May 7.
•Do vaccines work against it?
Lab research into the efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against the variants first seen in India showed that the shots appear to protect against variants. The findings were reported in a pre-print paper on biorxiv.org on Sunday, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.