(Asian News Hub) – A World Health Organization official said Monday it is reclassifying the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern,” indicating that it’s become a global health threat.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said the agency will provide more details in its weekly situation report on the pandemic Tuesday but added that the variant, known as B.1.617, has been found in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original virus and there is some evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines.
“And as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said during a press conference. “Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”The WHO said last week it was closely following at least 10 coronavirus variants across the world, including the B.1.617.
The variant was previously labeled a “variant of interest” as more studies were needed to completely understand its significance, Van Kerkhove said.
“What it means for anybody at home is any of the SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating can infect you and spread and everything in that sense is of concern,” she said Monday. “So, all of us at home, no matter where we live, no matter what virus is circulating, we need to make sure that we take all of the measures at hand to prevent ourselves from getting sick.”
A variant can be labeled as “of concern” if it has been shown to be more contagious, more deadly and more resistant to current vaccines and treatments, according to the WHO.
The group issued a clarification Monday to their earlier remarks, saying that current data shows the existing Covid-19 vaccines “remain effective at preventing disease and death in people infected with this variant.”
The international organization has already designated three other variants with the classification: B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the U.K. and is the most prevalent variant currently circulating throughout the U.S.; B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.
B.1.617 has three sublineages, Van Kerkhove said, that will be described in the situation report Tuesday.
The variant is believed by some to be behind the latest wave of infections in India.
The country is averaging about 3,879 Covid deaths per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though media reports indicate the official figure is being understated.
It has reported an average of about 391,000 new cases per day over the past seven days — up about 4% from a week ago, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The variant has since spread to other countries, including the United States.
Covid-19 patients testing positive after recovery can’t transmit virus to others: DAK
(Asian News Hub) – The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said some Covid-19 patients test positive weeks after recovering from the infection.
“RT-PCR test can detect the virus weeks after Covid patients have recovered from the illness,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“That does not mean that a person is infectious and able to transmit the virus to another person,” he said.
Dr Hassan said in most Covid-19 positive cases, the virus dies after the 7th or the 8th day of the illness. At that time virus cannot be transmitted to another person.
“But the dead virus can still be picked up by RT PCR test and the report may still come positive, even when a person has become free from Covid,” he said.
“RT-PCR test which is used to detect Covid-19 cannot distinguish whether the virus in the patient is dead or alive,” Dr Hassan said.
He said virus culture can tell us whether the positive test has picked up active virus which can reproduce and spread or just dead virus which won’t transmit to others.
Quoting a Korean study, DAK President said people who had recovered from Covid and tested positive again were not found to be contagious. That means they didn’t transmit the virus to others, based on virus culture that failed to find live viruses in recovered patients.
“Testing positive after recovery has caused a lot of unnecessary stress and panic among recovered Covid-19 persons,” he said.
Dr Nisar said in order to avoid unnecessary prolonged isolation and unnecessary use of laboratory testing resources, retesting is not recommended now. There is a shift from test-based strategy to time-based and symptom-based strategy to end the isolation of Covid patients.
“Under the new guidelines, Covid patients have to remain in isolation for 10 days after the symptom onset plus at least 3 additional days without symptoms,” he said.
“The initial recommendation to confirm clearance of the virus and thus allow discharge from isolation, required a patient to be clinically recovered and to have two negative RT-PCR test results on sequential samples taken at least 24 hours apart,” he added.
Third COVID-19 wave could be as severe as second: SBI report
Children could be the next vulnerable group and vaccination for them should be speeded up
(Asian News Hub) – The third wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India could be as intense as the second wave and it could last for an average duration of 98 days, according to a new report released by the State Bank of India (SBI) June 1, 2021.
However, the impact can be minimised if the number of serious cases are arrested by prioritising two things — improvement in health infrastructure and vaccination, it added.
The report pointed out that the average duration of the third wave for developed countries was 98 days and that of the second wave was 108 days.
However, it is also observed that in the third wave, if we are better prepared, the decline in serious case rate (patients that require oxygen, intensive care unit beds, etc) will lead to fewer deaths. We find that if serious cases decline from 20 per cent to 5 per cent (due to better health infrastructure and rigorous vaccination) in the third wave, the number of deaths in the third wave could significantly reduce to 40,000, as compared to the current deaths of more than 0.17 million.
It also warned that children could be the next vulnerable group and that vaccination should be the key priority, especially for them.
“With around 150-170 million children in the 12-18 age bracket, India should go for an advanced procurement strategy like that adopted by developed nations to inoculate this age-group,” the SBI Ecowrap report said.
The SBI economists slashed the gross domestic product growth estimates for (financial year) 2022 to 7.9 per cent, from the earlier projection of 10.4 per cent. But it has not taken into account the possibility of a third wave in its analysis.
Meanwhile, India continues to record over a 100,000 cases per day. In the last 24 hours, India recorded 132,788 new COVID-19 cases and 3,207 deaths. Tamil Nadu added the maximum cases (26,500) to the country’s case load, followed by Kerala (19,760) and Maharashtra (14,123).
The total number of active cases stands at about 1.79 million right now.
China reports world’s first human case of H10N3
(Asian News Hub) – China has reported the first case of human infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu from the country’s eastern Jiangsu province, China’s National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
The patient, a 41-year-old man from Zhenjiang city, is currently in a stable condition and meets discharge standards, the state-run CGTN TV reported. Health authorities played down the outbreak, saying the case was a sporadic virus transmission from poultry to humans, and the risk of causing a pandemic was extremely low.
The patient was diagnosed as having the H10N3 avian influenza virus on May 28, National Health Commission said in a statement without elaborating on how the man had got infected with the virus.
No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have previously been reported globally, it said.
H10N3 is a low pathogenic or relatively less severe strain of the virus in poultry and the risk of it spreading on a large scale is very low.There are many different strains of avian influenza in China and some sporadically infect people, generally those working with poultry. H5N8 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus (also known as the bird flu virus). While H5N8 only presents a low risk to humans, it is highly lethal to wild birds and poultry.
In April, a highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu was found in wild birds in northeast China’s Shenyang city.