COVID variant

Based on current data, existing COVID-19 vaccines remain effective at preventing disease and death in people infected with the B.1.617 variant of concern, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has insisted.

Aiming to set the record straight after answers given during a press conference on Monday were “misinterpreted” by some media outlets, the WHO reiterated that vaccines remain effective against the so-called “double mutation” variant of the virus first detected in India. 

It comes as the variant has been classed as a “variant of global concern” by the WHO and blamed for the disastrous explosion in COVID cases in India.

This makes it the fourth variant to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis. The first three were those detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

“We are classifying this as a variant of concern at a global level”, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told the briefing. “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility”.

COVID infection and death figures remained close to their record daily highs on Monday, and calls have been building for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement a lockdown to help slow the spread of the virus. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also announced the launch of a “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to purchase oxygen, medicines and protective equipment for health workers in the world’s second-most populous country.

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