Religious, political events among others behind Covid spike in India

Brenda Watkins
May 13, 2021

Findings from the eleventh report of REACT-1, one of the country's largest studies into COVID-19 infections in England, have been published today (Thursday 13 May) by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.

Meanwhile reports of rare blood clots have continued to hobble rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with some Brazilian states suspending its use in pregnant women after a reported death. "Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an "Indian Variant", the ministry said in a statement.

A variant of the virus called B.1.617, which was first detected in India in October, is another.

The World Health Organization said on May 10 that the COVID-19 variant first associated with India past year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of the Bereaved Families for Justice group, who lost her father Stuart to Covid, said: "It sounds like common sense when the Prime Minister says that an inquiry can wait until the pandemic is over, but lives are at stake with health experts and scientists warning of a third wave later this year".

'There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility'.

'We are classifying this as a variant of concern at a global level, ' Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told a briefing. It now has been added to the list of other Covid-19 "variants of concern" - United Kingdom (B117), South African (B1351) and Brazilian (P1) variants.

As of May 4, the CDC classified the strain and its several sublineages as a "variant of interest".

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It comes as the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have begun removing all remaining troops from Afghanistan . No group has so far claimed the attack, but Afghan officials including President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Taliban .

That danger stems from a variant's higher transmissibility, lethality and resistance to vaccines, or either of them.

This is to clarify that the World Health Organization has not associated the term "Indian variant" with the B.1.617 strain of the coronavirus in its 32 page document, it said.

They are seen as more risky than the original version of the virus by either being more transmissible, deadly or able to get past some vaccine protections.

"The resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths in India has raised questions on the potential role of B.1.617 and other variants (e.g., B.1.1.7) in circulation", the update said.

The WHO explained Wednesday that B.1.617 was added to the list because it appears to be transmitted more easily than the original virus, pointing to the "rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries". "The exact contributions of these each of these factors on increased transmission in India are not well understood", it said.

Approximately 0.1 per cent of positive samples in India have been sequenced and uploaded to GISAID to identify SARS-CoV-2 variants. Experts also caution that it is not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the explosion of cases in India.

"Since the importance of variants may differ by location, CDC, in collaboration with the SIG [SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group], is closely monitoring the emergence of the B.1.617 variant in the United States and this variant has been prioritized for characterization by the US government to better understand the potential impact on available medical countermeasures, including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics", said Jade Fulce, CDC spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

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