Coronavirus Strain Found in India Is a ‘Variant of Concern,’ WHO Says

Wall Street Journal    10 May 2021

B.1.617 becomes fourth variant so classified by agency, which says it may be more transmissible than some others

A train carriage in Agartala, India, has been converted into a ward for Covid-19 patients.

Photo: Xinhua/Zuma Press

By Suryatapa Bhattacharya in Tokyo and Drew Hinshawin Milan

The World Health Organization declared a coronavirus variant first identified in India as a global “variant of concern,” saying preliminary studies showed it may be more transmissible than some other variants.

The variant, known as B.1.617, is being studied by scientists around the world as they try to figure out its role in the fast-growing Covid-19 surge in India.

“The pattern now is that one person in the family gets it, the whole family seems to get it. This is unlike the first wave. And so I think what we’re seeing is more transmissible,” the WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said in an interview.

B.1.617 is the fourth “variant of concern” classified by the WHO. The U.N. agency has also given the same designation to the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K.; the B.1.35 variant found in South Africa; and the P.1 variant discovered by researchers in Brazil.

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