According to AFP, World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Saturday that the virus strain in India is likely to be a “variant of concern” because it contains mutations that improve transmission. The scientist said in an interview with the news agency that these factors were leading to the second wave’s huge outbreak of the infection.
The Covid-19 B.1.617 variant, also known as the double mutant strain, was first discovered in India in October of last year. The strain consists of two virus variants, as the name implies.
The E484Q mutation resembles a previously identified variant – the E484K – that was found in fast-spreading Brazilian and South African mutants, rendering it highly transmissible. The L452R mutation, on the other hand, aids the virus’s ability to escape the immune system. B.1.617 was the name given to the double mutation strain.
The WHO announced last month that the variant had been discovered in 17 countries. However, the health organisation has classified the mutation as a “variant of interest,” rather than a “variant of concern.” On Saturday, Swaminathan predicted that the WHO would issue the classification.
According to AFP, B 1.617 is likely to be a problematic mutant since it contains mutations that enhance transmission.
According to Swaminathan, India’s large number of pathogens raises the chances of new and more harmful variants emerging.
She went on to say that the variant strain was not the only reason for the increase in cases in India, and that “massive social mixing and big gatherings” were also to blame.
You can have transmission at low levels in a wide country like India, which is what happened for several months, Swaminathan told AFP. It’s really difficult to suppress at that stage because it’s affecting tens of thousands of people and expanding at a pace that’s difficult to avoid.
Swaminathan also stated that vaccination alone would not be enough to stop the outbreak in India, claiming that inoculating 70 percent to 80 percent of the country’s 130 million people would take “months, if not years.”
Corrections and clarifications: Soumya Swaminathan was quoted in an earlier version of this storey as saying that the virus strain in India is potentially immune to vaccine safety. She has since explained that AFP misquoted her.
I have been misquoted. I said B1.617 is more transmissible, based on which it is a VOC. There is no data on its impact on diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccine effectiveness yet. @WHO updating variant data continously https://t.co/UFZsMF6FkD via @scroll_in
— Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) May 10, 2021