The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October, had been detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open-access database "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions." "WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries," the agency's weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic added.
On Wednesday, India reported a record number of people killed by the coronavirus in 24 hours, pushing its overall death toll over a quarter million, while a leading virologist said it was too early to determine if the infection spiral had reached a peak.
According to health ministry data, deaths from COVID-19 swelled by 4,205, while daily coronavirus cases rose by 348,421, with India's overall number of cases surging past 23 million. Even then, experts believe the official numbers grossly underestimate the real scale of the epidemic's impact, and actual deaths and infections could be five to ten times higher.
India's COVID-19 infection curve may be showing early signs of flattening. Still, the decline in the number of new infections is likely to be slow, said Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist.
"It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak," he was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper. "There is some indication of the cases plateauing. But we must not forget that this is a very high plateau. We seem to be plateauing around 400,000 cases a day."
It also said that Britain had reported the most significant number of COVID-19 cases caused by the variant outside of India.
On Monday, the WHO declared B.1.617 - which counts three so-called sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics - as a "variant of concern." Therefore, it was added to the list containing three other variants of COVID-19 - those first detected in Britain, Brazil, and South Africa.
The WHO explained Wednesday that B.1.617 was added to the list because of its apparent capacity to spread more quickly than the original coronavirus, pointing to the "rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries." It also pointed to "preliminary evidence" that the variant was more resistant to treatment.
#India and #EU | On Saturday announced the resumption of negotiations on three balanced and comprehensive trade-related agreements but were unable to reach common ground on calls for a waiver of patent protections for #COVID19 vaccines.https://t.co/qgKmgIFiIu