New contagious virus in India, spreading to other countries

New Delhi (DM) A coronavirus variant, B. that has emerged in India could bring about “increased transmissibility” or even “reduced neutralization” due to the specific mutations that it contains, says the World Health Organization. WHO also noted that the variant is spreading to other countries and has been reported “across Asia and North America.”

The variant, B.1.617 was first appeared in the country on December 2020. It has two specific mutations — E484Q and L452R — that have been detected in more contagious variants worldwide, said Maria Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 Technical Lead at WHO.

“This virus variant is a variant of interest, the B1617 lineage. This was first detected and reported by India, it has two mutations: the E484Q and the L452R.

These are specific mutations within the genome. It was first seen in two states at the end of 2020 and there is an increasing proportion of cases of this B1617 that have increased since the end of last year.

“Having two of these mutations which have been seen in other variants around the world are concerning, because there’s a similarity in these mutations that confer increased transmissibility, and some of these mutations also result in reduced neutralization, which may have an impact on our counter-measures including the vaccines,” the WHO official said at a news conference on Friday.

“What we are doing is working with India and working with countries around the world to make sure that we increase the proportion of sequencing that is happening around the world but making sure that this is intelligent sequencing so that we can detect where these variants of interest and these variants of concern are,” she added.

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