Indian COVID-19 Variant Causes Concern as Sharp Spike in New Infections Recorded

The past two months have seen several countries register the Indian variant, with scientists fearing it may be more transmissible.

The explosive surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in India has led scientists to study whether a variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in India is to blame. 

What is the Indian Variant?

The variant, named B.1.617, has so far been reported in about 21 countries and is raising concern around the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the variant was first identified in India last December, despite the first case being reported in October 2020.

Indian virologist Dr Radha Kanta Ratho, who is also a professor at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, told Sputnik that the Indian variant “consists of two mutations on the spike protein of the virus that permits a virus to enter the body to infect it.” He explained more research is needed because “data is sparse at the moment and more about this variant’s behaviour will be documented soon.” 

B.1.617 was detected in about 220 of 361 COVID-19 samples collected between January and March in the Indian state of Maharashtra. 

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