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‘Variant spreading in India could be dodging some vaccine protections’ | India News – Times of India

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 WHO’s chief scientist said on Saturday. In an interview with AFP, Soumya

Swaminathan

warned that “the epidemiological features that we see in India today do indicate that it’s an extremely rapidly spreading variant”.

Swaminathan, an Indian paediatrician and clinical scientist, said the

B.1.617

variant of Covid-19 was clearly a contributing factor to the catastrophe unfolding in India. “There have been many accelerators that are fed into this,” the 62-year-old said, stressing that “a more rapidly spreading virus is one of them”.

The WHO recently listed B.1.617 as a “variant of interest”. Several national health authorities, including in the US and

Britain

, have said they consider B.1.617 a variant of concern, and Swaminathan said she expected the WHO to soon follow suit. “B.1.617 is likely to be a variant of concern because it has some mutations which increase transmission, and which also potentially could make (it) resistant to antibodies that are generated by vaccination or by natural infection,” she said.

But she insisted that the variant alone could not be blamed for the dramatic surge in cases and deaths seen in India, pointing to “huge social mixing and large gatherings” in recent months.

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