WHO: Indian variant of covid-19 is worrying 0:53
(CNN) – The variant of the coronavirus first identified in India has devastated the nation and then spread to neighboring countries, causing immeasurable suffering. Scientists believe that the variant, called B.1.617.2, could be more transmissible than the original covid-19 strain. There is no evidence that it is causing a more serious illness. But its higher transmissibility means that the number of infections is increasing much faster.
Today’s reported cases in India fell below 300,000 for the first time in nearly a month, but its daily death toll remains at more than 4,000. And this number of cases is overwhelming health systems.
More than 80 patients died in a few days at one of the largest government hospitals in the state of Goa, having been experiencing oxygen shortages, according to a local opposition party politician.
Argentina: this is how they detected variants of India and South Africa 0:38
However, there is a hint of good news: existing covid-19 vaccines appear to work against the variant.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that “new and very early data” from the University of Oxford gives “a degree of confidence” that the vaccines will work against the new strain.
He echoed scientists who have been cautiously optimistic about the efficacy of vaccines.
Sir John Bell, an emeritus professor of medicine at Oxford, told Times Radio that early laboratory results suggested that the B.1.617.2 variant “will be susceptible to the vaccine in the same way as others.”
The university cautioned that the data is preliminary. Bell said tests performed on plasma serum from vaccinated people showed that the vaccine had the ability to neutralize the virus.
“It is a very effective way of knowing if you are going to be protected or not,” he added.
If you do the lab experiment, it looks good. It’s not perfect, but it’s not catastrophically bad. There is a slight reduction in the ability to neutralize the virus, but it is not very good and it is certainly not as good as you see with the South African variant, “he said.
Still, the new variant has now reached dozens of countries and is causing concern around the world. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted last week that his government was “anxious” in terms of concern about the new strain.
And while the UK government went ahead with its reopening plans in England today, relaxing many social distancing measures and allowing inside dining, its plan to lift all legal limits on social contact from June 21 is far from being set in stone.