WHO classifies B1617 COVID-19 variant, first identified in India, as variant of global concern

GENEVA [Switzerland]: The coronavirus variant B1617 first identified in India last year has been classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official informed on Monday.
“B1617 virus variant that was first identified in India has been classified as a variant of interest by WHO,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.
Dr Kerkhove added that WHO needs much more information about this B1617 variant and all of the sub-lineages. “Our Epi teams and our lab teams internally, there is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B1617, as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said.
Over WHO’s diagnostics methods, Dr Kerkhove said it does not have anything to suggest that our diagnostics or therapeutics and our vaccines don’t work.
The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of “global concern” and requiring heightened tracking and analysis and data collection must be done in a transparent way, the Chief Scientist added. (Agency)