May 12, 2021: -On Monday, a World Health Organization official said it is reclassifying the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant widely spread in India as a “variant of concern,” which indicates that it’s become a global health threat.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus, said the agency would provide details in its weekly situation report on the pandemic on Tuesday. There is evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines. However, the shots are still considered adequate.
“And as such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said in a press conference. “Even though some preliminary studies demonstrate increased transmissibility, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub-lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”
The WHO said it was closely following at least ten coronavirus variants worldwide, including the B.1.617. The variant was labeled a “variant of interest” as more studies were needed to understand its significance thoroughly, Van Kerkhove said.
“What it means for anybody at home is any of the SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating can spread, and everything in that sense is of concern,” she added on Monday.
“So, all of us at home, no matter where we live, no matter what virus is circulating, we need to make sure that we take all of the measures at hand to prevent from getting sick.”
According to the WHO, a variant can be labeled “of concern” if it is more contagious or resistant to current vaccines and treatments.
On Monday, the group issued a clarification to their earlier remarks, saying that current data shows the existing Covid-19 vaccines “remain effective at preventing the diseases and death in people infected with this variant.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the country is averaging about 3,879 Covid deaths per day, though media reports indicate the official figure is understated.
It has reported an average of nearly 391,000 new cases per day over the past seven days, Johns Hopkins University data shows. The variant has since spread to other countries, which include the United States.