COVID-19 variant first seen in India designated as global concern, WHO says

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday the coronavirus variant first identified in India, the B.1.617, was being designated as one of global concern, citing preliminary studies showing it spreads more easily.
The variant has already spread to other countries and many nations have moved to cut or restrict movements from India.

Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said that studies were underway to examine the transmissibility, severity of the disease the B.1.617 causes and the response of antibodies in people who have been vaccinated.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also addressed the ongoing vaccine rollout around the world, stressing that with variants still present and spreading, the world was in a “perilous situation.” He called on countries to work to end the global disparity in access, stating high and middle-income countries which represent 53 per cent of the world’s population have received 83 per cent of the world’s vaccines, while low and lower-middle-income countries that account for 47 per cent of the population have only received 17 per cent of vaccines.

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