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WHO lists Covid strain first detected in India as 'variant of concern'
The global agency stressed that it is too early to say that that the variant has more resistance to coronavirus vaccines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said the coronavirus variant first detected in India has been classified as being "of concern".
"There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of the B.1.617," Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's lead on coronavirus, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
"As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level."
She also said that early studies show the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India in October, has "reduced neutralisation," meaning that the antibodies have less impacted the strain.
However, the global agency stressed that it is too early to say that that the variant has more resistance to coronavirus vaccines.
"Based on current data, the COVID-19 vaccines remain effective at preventing disease and death in people infected with this variant," the WHO said in a statement.
WHO's weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday will provide more information on this variant, Van Kerkhove said.
Meanwhile, India continues to battle a new wave of coronavirus that has challenged the country's health infrastructure and raised global concerns.
The country is reporting more than 350,000 daily cases for several days and often is witnessing record infections too, with many experts suggesting that the B.1.617 variant could be behind the massive surge.