The World Health Organisation has said that a variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in India has been found in dozens of countries across the world and it is transmitting more easily than the original virus.
The agency said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 had been detected in more than 4,500 samples “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions,” according to AFP. Apart from India, Britain had reported the highest number of Covid cases caused by the variant.
The WHO listed B.1.617 as a “variant of concern” earlier this week and said its spread, alongside other more variants, seemed to be one of the reasons behind India’s deadly second wave.
In India, mucormycosis or “black fungus” in Covid-19 patients have become an added cause of worry as several states report a rise in cases. Mucormycosis is a rare but serious fungal infection, and can cause loss of sight.
Meanwhile, the United States has begun inoculating children as young as 12 after Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine was authorised for emergency use in that age group.
No further announcement on Covid public inquiry expected today
Environment secretary George Eustice has said he does not expect any further announcement on a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic today.
He told Sky News: “There will be a time and a place for an inquiry of that sort, I’m not aware that anything is being announced on it today. For now, we’re not out of this yet, we’ve still got a huge amount to do.
“For now we’ve still got to focus on getting ourselves out of this situation, we’ve made some great progress with the vaccine programme but we’ve got to keep our focus on that.”
Indian Covid variant could undermine UK reopening, say experts
Experts and scientists have said that the rising number of cases in the UK of a coronavirus variant first detected in India could undermine the country’s reopening.
Prof Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London, told The Guardian that the rise in cases was concerning enough to delay the next stage of the roadmap scheduled for Monday.
Outside of India, Britain had reported the highest number of Covid cases caused by the Indian variant, WHO said.
Decline in Covid-19 cases in India will be slow, says virologist
Indian virologist Dr Shahid Jameel has said that while India’s Covid curve may be showing early signs of flattening, the decline in the number of new infections is likely to be slow.
“It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak. There is some indication of the cases plateauing. But we must not forget that this is a very high plateau. We seem to be plateauing around 400,000 cases a day,” he told The Indian Express.
India reported 348,421 new cases and 4,205 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. India currently accounts for one in three of the reported deaths from coronavirus around the world, according to a Reuters tally. Experts believe actual figures are much higher than official data.
Nepal struggles with Covid-19 as India stops exports
Hospitals in Nepal, which is grappling with a brutal second wave of Covid-19, have raised an alarm over shortage of oxygen.
Kathmandu is struggling to find alternative supplies with India stopping exports of oxygen due to the worsening situation there, according to BBC. Hospitals in Nepal have run out of ICU beds and have been forced to turn patients away.
On Tuesday, Nepal recorded its highest daily coronavirus-related deaths with 225 fatalities and 9,483 new cases.
Anthony Fauci says India opened up prematurely
America’s top public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that India has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases because it opened up prematurely.
“The reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it,” he said at a Senate hearing on Covid-19 response.
He said they “opened up prematurely and wound up having a surge right now that we’re all very well aware of is extremely devastating.”
India’s daily Covid-19 deaths rise by a record 4,205
India reported 348,421 new Covid-19 cases and a record 4,205 deaths in the 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning.
The overall caseload has now surged past 23 million and total fatalities are past the 250,000 mark, according to health ministry data.
Good morning, and welcome toThe Independent’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday 12 May, 2021.