Indian variant covid: Bad news from WHO

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The various mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have always raised fears. But the Indian variant is currently the one that worries the health authorities the most. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this strain of the coronavirus is more contagious and could make Covid-19 vaccines less effective.

"B.1.617" is how the Indian variant was named. The latter was identified for the first time in October 2020 in India, more precisely near the city of Nagpur, in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located. This strain of the coronavirus is actively circulating in the territory. But it has also spread to different European countries, such as Belgium, Italy and France, which worries the health authorities. Furthermore, the news recently announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) about the Indian variant is not reassuring.

The Indian variant is said to be more resistant to antibodies and makes vaccines less effective.

Indian WHO chief pediatrician and researcher Soumya Swaminathan urged countries to be cautious about spreading the Indian variant. This strain "has mutations that increase transmissions, and which can also potentially make it resistant to antibodies that have been developed through vaccination or natural contamination," he explained May 8.

The scientist estimated that the WHO could include the variant "B.1.617" in the list of variants considered more dangerous than the classic strain of Covid-19. The mutations in question would represent a much greater danger because of the death rate of affected patients but also because they are more contagious and would be more resistant to the antibodies developed after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Soumya Swaminathan also said that the Indian variant was a factor that accelerated the epidemic that had gotten out of control in India. However, he said that the increase in cases in the country was not caused solely by this strain of the coronavirus. India has let its guard down too soon, he said. He deplored the "great mass rallies" in the country.

"In a large country like India, the pollution can go on quietly for months. These early signals were ignored until the transmissions reached a point where the lift-off was vertical," he said.

Will the vaccine be able to fight the Indian variant?

"The epidemic affects thousands of people and the virus is multiplying at a rate that is very difficult to stop," said the researcher. He warned that vaccination alone would not be enough to regain control of the situation. So far, only 2% of Indias 1.3 billion population have received the two doses of the Covid vaccine. "It will take months, if not years, to reach a rate of 70 to 80% of the immune population," according to Soumya Swaminathan.

Indian variant: even more dangerous strains could appear

The scientist warned that new and increasingly dangerous variants could emerge due to the scale of the epidemic in India. "The more the virus replicates, spreads and transmits, the greater the risk of mutations and adaptation." "Variants that accumulate a large number of mutations can eventually become resistant to the vaccines that we currently have. This will be a problem for everyone," warned Soumya Swaminathan.

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