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Home / News / World /  WHO classifies Covid mutation in India as 'variant of concern'

A Covid-19 variant spreading in India, the B.1.617, appears to be more contagious and has been classified as being "of concern", the World Health Organization said Monday.

"There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility," and also possibly some increased resistance to vaccine protections, Maria Van Kerkove, WHO's lead on Covid-19, told reporters. "As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level," she added, reported AFP.

"We classify it as a variant of concern at a global level," Kerkhove told a briefing.

The epidemiologist also said that WHO will issue more information on Tuesday on the covid variant first identified in India.

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.

Earlier on Sunday, WHO's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan informed Covid-19 variant spreading in India is more contagious and it is feared it could be dodging some vaccine protections, contributing to the country's explosive outbreak

In an interview with AFP, Soumya Swaminathan warned that "the epidemiological features that we see in India today do indicate that it's an extremely rapidly spreading variant".

Swaminathan, an Indian paediatrician and clinical scientist, said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, which was first detected in India last October, was clearly a contributing factor to the catastrophe unfolding in her homeland.

"There have been many accelerators that are fed into this," the 62-year-old said, stressing that "a more rapidly spreading virus is one of them".

The WHO recently listed B.1.617 -- which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics -- as a "variant of interest".

Meanwhile, after recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India witnessed a single-day rise of 3,66,161 COVID-19 cases on Monday, which pushed its tally to 2,26,62,575, according to the health ministry.

The death toll due to the viral disease climbed to 2,46,116 with 3,754 more people succumbing to it, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country has gone up to 37,45,237, accounting for 16.53 per cent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 82.39 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has climbed to 1,86,71,222, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 per cent, according to the data.

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