Variant fueling India’s COVID explosion — top WHO scientist

GENEVA — A COVID-19 variant spreading in India is more contagious and it is feared it could be dodging some vaccine protections, contributing to the country’s explosive outbreak, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist sys.

In an interview with AFP, Soumya Swaminathan warns that “the epidemiological features that we see in India today do indicate that it’s an extremely rapidly spreading variant.”

Swaminathan, an Indian pediatrician and clinical scientist, says the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India last October, is clearly a contributing factor to the catastrophe unfolding in her homeland.

“There have been many accelerators that are fed into this,” the 62-year-old says, stressing that “a more rapidly spreading virus is one of them.”

The WHO recently listed B.1.617 — which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics — as a “variant of interest.”

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