New Delhi: In what sets alarm bells ringing for UK health officials, a total of 77 cases of Indian Covid variant has been found in the country. The double mutant virus, an Indian variant is also known as ‘B.1.617 variant’. This variant includes a number of mutations and UK Health services have designated it as a Variant Under Investigation (VUI).
The news was confirmed in the weekly report of Public Health England (PHE), as some cases were reported under the Variants of Concern (VOC) and VUI in the UK.
The PHE report said, “A new variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by PHE. The variant, first detected in India, includes a number of mutations including E484Q, L452R, and P681R.”
”PHE has identified 77 cases of this variant in the UK and all appropriate public health interventions will be undertaken, including enhanced contact tracing. This variant has been designated VUI-21APR-01. PHE and international partners continue to monitor the situation closely,” said the report.
The new B.1.617 strain has mutations that increases the speed of transmission while partially evading the body’s immune system. This new variant is apparently behind sudden surge of second wave of the COVID-19 in India.
The latest developments have forced the UK PM Boris Johnson to shorten his trip to India later this month. Now, a bulk of events will be fit in a packed one-day trip on April 26.
UK PM Johnson’s spokesperson said, ”We have been in close contact with the Indian government about the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit in light of the COVID-19 situation in India. As a result of these discussions the Prime Minister has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit, due to take place at the end of this month, to a shorter programme in New Delhi.”
If there are further concerns about the Indian B.1.617 variant, then it could be categorised from a Variant Under Investigation to a Variant of Concern.