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B.1.617 is a COVID-19 variant of concern because of its transmissibility

B.1.617, first found in India, is a COVID-19 variant of concern because of its transmissibility, says WHO's chief scientist.

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The COVID-19 variant B.1.617, first found in Maharashtra, India, has been named a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. But Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said its classification is based on it being more transmissible.

After some reports suggested otherwise, she also clarified “there is no data on its impact on diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccine effectiveness yet.”

The variant became the fourth so classified by the WHO. The U.N. agency has also given the same designation to the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in Southeast England, the B.1.35 variant found in South Africa; and the P.1 variant discovered by researchers in Brazil.

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