On May 10, the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus variant found in India is officially of “global concern.”

The India variant, also known as the B.1.617 variant, has spread in over 32 different countries as of today. According to the UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, more than 2,300 cases of the Indian variant have been confirmed so far in the UK.

After watching an increase in the number of individuals contracting the virus, WHO made it official that this variant should be made a priority to be taken care of. 

Although the WHO still recommends receiving both doses of the vaccine, studies have shown that the B.1.617 variant is resistant to many of the antibodies used in COVID-19 treatments. “I am concerned about 617,” said virologist Kristian Anderson. “I think we have to keep a very close eye on it.” 

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PM Johnson: Vaccines are effective against all variants, including the Indian variant

Nonetheless, the UK is confident that the variant is not a growing concern that their country will worry too much over.  “We’ve looked at the data again this morning and I can tell the House we have increasing confidence that vaccines are effective against all variants, including the Indian variant,” prime minister  Boris Johnson said at the House of Commons this morning.

With the UK’s confidence that the vaccine will protect them from the new variant, they will continue to keep their plan of slowly backing away from any remaining restrictions starting June 21. 

As of now, the B.1.617 variant has proved to be more dangerous than the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant that has also taken the nation by storm. According to the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group, “Transmission of the variant is currently faster than that of the B.1.1.7 variant.” Still, COVID-19 cases are continuing to drop in numbers, and progress is still being made despite these new variants. 

Experts have stated that they will continue to gather more data from India on the virus so we can put COVID-19 to rest once and for all. 

Hannah Walker is a health reporter at The Pavlovic Today.

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