Increased transmissibility of the B-1617 variant of COVID found in India prompted the World Health Organisation to warn it as a global "variant of concern".
"In consultation with our virus evolution working group, and our Epi teams and our lab teams internally, there is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of B-1617; as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level," said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid-19 Technical Lead at WHO.
She added that even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, "we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage, so we need more targeted sequencing to be done, and to be shared in India and elsewhere so that we know how much of this virus is circulating".
Van Kerkhove also stressed the need for more information on this variety and suggested targeted sequencing to evaluate neutralization severity.
"So far, from information that we have (is) the public health and social measures work, but we need to work that much harder to control any virus variants that have demonstrated increased transmissibility," she said, adding that the WHO does not have anything to suggest that "our diagnostics or therapeutics and our vaccines don't work".
She emphasised that no matter how many variants of concern emerge worldwide, we must do everything to limit the speed of the virus and reduce its severity and death.
"We need to make sure that we take all of the measures at hand to prevent ourselves from getting sick". She said, "It's the individual-level measures… all of the measures that are at hand and ensuring that governments provide a supportive and an enabling environment so that we can carry outmeasure that can keep us safe," she added.