"A recent risk assessment of the situation in India conducted by WHO found that resurgence and acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility; several religious and political mass gathering events which increased social mixing; and, under use of and reduced adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM)".
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is "closely monitoring" a coronavirus variant first identified in India, a spokesperson told Fox News.
Covid-19's so-called "Indian variant" has a "modest" ability to "escape" the antibodies developed by vaccines, but it can, at best, cause moderate illness among those who have got the shots, scientists from India and the United Kingdom have found, establishing that "vaccination is still protective for the majority of people".
The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis.
Geneva:COVID-19 variant B.1.617, which was first identified in India previous year and has been classified as a variant of global concern, has three sub-lineages, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official informed on Wednesday. "We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency", the global health body tweeted, tagging some leading English dailies and news agencies in India.
"In fact, the word "Indian" has not been used in its [WHO's] report on the matter", the ministry said.
More details would be provided about the variant in the WHO's weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday, Van Kerkhove said. "We will continue to see variants emerge, variants of concern around the world and we must do everything we can to really limit the spread", added the Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.
American health officials dubbed B.1.617 a "variant of interest" last week, due to its worrisome mutations.
The variants are seen as more unsafe than the original version of the virus because they are either being more transmissible, deadly, or able to get past some vaccine protections.
That danger stems from a variant's higher transmissibility, lethality and resistance to vaccines, or either of them.
The WHO has said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India in December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020. "This appears to be posing the biggest threat right now in terms of transmissibility, with many countries reporting increasing trajectories of the B.1.617 variant", she said.
With a record 4,205 deaths in the past 24 hours in India, the variant stoking the country's surge has now been detected in dozens of other countries across the globe.
It has for some time been feared that B.1.617 - which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics - might be contributing to the alarming spread.
Since the identification of these variants through late April 2021, B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 accounted for 21 per cent and 7 per cent of sequenced samples from India, respectively.