Why Covid-19 cases exploding in India? WHO top scientist answers

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In an interview with AFP, Soumya Swaminathan warned that “the epidemiological features we see in India today indicate that it is a very quickly spread variant”.

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

Some of the Covid-19 variants in India are more contagious and perhaps avoiding vaccine protection, contributing to the country’s explosive outbreak, the head of World Health Scientist Saturday Saturday.

In an interview with AFP, Soumya Swaminathan warned that “the epidemiological features we see in India today indicate that it is a very quickly spread variant”.

India on Saturday for the first time registering more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in just 24 hours, and more than 400,000 new infections.

New Delhi has struggled to load an outbreak, which has flooded its health care system, and many experts suspect official death and case numbers are an underestimated.

Swaminathan, an Indian children’s scientist and clinical scientist, said the B.1.617 Covid-19 variant, who was first detected in India last October, was clearly a factor that contributed to the disaster that took place in his homeland.

“There are many accelerators put in this,” said the 62-year-old, emphasizing that “the virus that faster spread is one of them”.

Who recently registered B.1.617 – which calculates several sub-genres with mutations and characteristics that are slightly different – as “variant variants”,

Hold against antibodies?

But so far it has stopped adding it to the short list of “variants of concern” – the label that shows it is more dangerous than the original version of the virus by becoming more transmitting, deadly or able to pass vaccine protection.

Some national health authorities, including in the United States and the United Kingdom, meanwhile said they consider B.1.617 variants who were a concern, and Swaminathan said he hoped who would soon follow.

“B 1,617 is likely to be a variant of concern because it has several mutations that increase transmission, and which also can potentially create (IT) resistant to antibodies produced by vaccination or with natural infections,” he said.

But he insisted that the variant could not be blamed for a dramatic surge in cases and deaths seen in India, lamenting that the country seemed to have disappointed it, with “big social mixing”.

The mass election demonstration held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other politicians, for example, partly blamed for a surprising increase in infection.

But even because many in India felt the crisis had ended, dropping the mask and other protection steps, the virus was quietly spreading.

‘Take off vertically’

“In large countries like India, you can have transmissions at low levels, which occur for months,” Swaminathan said.

“It’s endemic (and) it might gradually increase,” he said, clrying that “the initial signs were missed to reach the point where it took off vertically.”

“At that time it was very difficult to pressure, because it involves tens of thousands of people and it multiplies with a very difficult level to be stopped.”

While India is now trying to increase vaccination to control the outbreak, Swaminathan warns that the Jab will not be enough to get control of the situation.

He showed that India, the largest vaccine country in the world, has just been vaccinated by around two percent of 1.3 billion plus populations.

“It will take months if not for years to reach 70 to 80 percent,” he said.

With that prospect, Swaminathan emphasizes that “for the future, we need to depend on the health and social steps that have been tried and tested” to drop transmissions.

The surge in India is scary not only because of the terrible number of people who are sick and dying there, but also because the infection rates that explode dramatically increase the chances of new and more dangerous variants that arise.

“The more viruses replicate and spread and transmit, the more possibilities … the mutation will develop and adapt,” said Swaminathan.

“The variant that accumulates a lot of mutations will eventually be resistant to the current vaccine that we have,” he warned.

“It will be a problem for the whole world.”

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