The Indian Covid-19 variant has spread to at least 53 territories around the world, WHO says

The coronavirus variant first discovered in India has now been officially registered in 53 areas, a report from the World Health Organization found on Wednesday.

In addition, WHO has received information from unofficial sources that the B.1.617 variant has been found in seven other areas, figures in the weekly epidemiological update from the UN Health Service showed, bringing the total to 60.

The report said that B.1.617 had shown increased transmissibility while examining disease severity and risk of infection.

Globally, the number of new cases and deaths continued to decline over the past week, with about 4.1 million new cases and 84,000 new deaths – a decline of 14 percent and 2 percent, respectively, from the week before.

The WHO European Region reported the largest drop in the number of new cases and deaths in the past seven days, followed by the Southeast Asia region.

The number of cases reported from the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa and the Western Pacific was similar to the previous week.

“Despite a declining global trend over the past four weeks, the incidence of Covid-19 cases and deaths remains high, and significant increases have been observed in many countries around the world,” the document said.

The highest number of new cases in the past seven days was reported from India (1,846,055 – a decrease of 23 percent); Brazil (451,424 – three percent more); Argentina (213,046 – 41 percent higher), the United States (188,410 – 20 percent lower) and Colombia (107,590 – seven percent lower).

Variant detection

The update provided information on the four mutations classified as variants of concern: those first reported in Great Britain (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617).

In adding up the total number of areas reported by each variant, the WHO counted the areas in which it had official and unofficial information.

B.1.1.7 has now been reported in 149 areas; B.1.351 in 102 territories and P.1 in 59 territories.

The WHO has split the figures for the B.1.617 variant into three lines (B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3).

The first has been reported in a total of 41 territories, the second in 54 and the third in six: Great Britain, Canada, Germany, India, Russia and the United States.

Together, genera of the B.1.617 variant were officially recorded in 53 territories and unofficially in seven more.

The update also listed six variants of interest being monitored.

One was first discovered in multiple countries, two of them were first found in the United States, while the other three were first discovered in Brazil, the Philippines, and France.

“Virus evolution is expected, and the more SARS-CoV-2 circulating, the more opportunities it has to evolve,” the report said.

“Reducing transmission through established and proven disease control methods … are critical aspects of the global strategy to reduce the occurrence of mutations with negative consequences for human health.”


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