The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant – after those first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil – to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis.
“We are classifying this as a variant of concern at a global level. There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility,” Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Lead on Covid-19, told a briefing.
“What we know now is that the vaccines work, the diagnostics work, the same treatments that are used for the regular virus works, so there is really no need to change any of those,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, said, commenting on the findings about the Covid variant.
Due to the fact that the variant has spread to other countries, destinations have made decisions to restrict travel to and from India, where the healthcare system is seriously struggling due to surging case numbers and insufficient access to medical care. And WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO Foundation was launching a ‘Together for India’ appeal to raise funds to purchase oxygen, medicines and protective equipment for health workers.