The Indian-origin COVID-19 variant, B.1.617, has been detected in 44 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) informed on Wednesday.
“As of 11 May, over 4500 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID (platform of data sharing mechanism for influenza) and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries,” WHO said in its weekly update on the pandemic.
Additionally, the WHO said it also received reports of detection from five more countries as well.
On Monday, a WHO official said that the India-origin COVID-19 variant has been classified as a “variant of global concern”. Preliminary studies suggest that it spreads faster, she added.
“B.1.617 virus variant that was first identified in India has been classified as a variant of interest by WHO,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.
She further said that WHO needs much more information about this B1617 variant and all of the sub-lineages.
“Our Epi teams and our lab teams internally, there is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B1617, as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said.
The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of “global concern”.