WHO classifies Indian variant as “Variant of Concern”

What is the News?

The World Health Organization has classified the B.1.617 (variant first identified in India in 2020) as a Variant of Concern(VoC).

Variant Classifications: Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.

Types: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies variants into three categories:

Variant of Interest(VOI):

A variant is classified as Variant of Interest, based on the following possible attributes:

  • Firstly, Associated with changes to receptor binding
  • Secondly, Reduced neutralization by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination
  • Thirdly, Reduced efficacy of treatments
  • Fourthly, Potential diagnostic impact
  • Lastly, A predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity.
Variant of Concern(VoC):

A variant is classified as Variant of Concern if there is any evidence of:

  • Increase in transmissibility
  • More severe disease (e.g. increased hospitalizations or deaths)
  • Significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination
  • Reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines or diagnostic detection failures.

Note: The most frequent Variant of Concern(VOC) named by WHO by their geography of origin are

  • ‘U.K. variant’ for B.1.1.7;
  • ‘South Africa variant’ for B.1.351;
  • ‘Brazil variant’ for P.1. and
  • ‘Indian Variant’ for B.1.617
Variants of High Consequence
  • This is classified when there is clear evidence that prevention measures or medical countermeasures do not work on curbing the virus compared to other variants.
  • Currently, there are no SARS-CoV-2 variants that rise to the level of high consequence.

Source: The Hindu


What are “Variants of Concern” (VoC)?

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