London [UK], May 15 (ANI): The B.1.617.2 variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is likely to take over and dominate in the United Kingdom, said England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference at 10 Downing Street, Whitty said: "The thing which has changed, which is of a very clear view that this variant is more transmissible than that the B.117 and we expect that this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK in the way the B.117 variant took over and indeed the other variants have taken over prior to that."The medical officer also told reporters that the variant has shown a steady upward curve in the UK, adding that Bolton has seen more cases of the variant first identified in India.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that the new variant could pose a serious disruption to the easing of COVID-19 lockdown planned on June 21.
"This new variant could pose as a serious disruption to our progress and could make it difficult to move to step 4 in June and I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe," he said.
He also said that the UK will be accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination rollout amid concerns over the B.1.617.2 variant.
"The race between our vaccination program and the virus may be about to become a great deal tighter," Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Germany now classifies the United Kingdom as a "risk area" amid a rise in the number of cases of the strain first identified in India, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's national agency for disease control and prevention, announced on Friday, CNN reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday informed that the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October last year, had been detected in sequences uploaded "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions".
"As of 11 May, over 4500 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID (platform of data sharing mechanism for influenza) and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries," WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
The coronavirus variant, first identified in India last year, has been classified as a "variant of global concern", with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily, a senior WHO official had said on Monday. The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of "global concern".
The WHO also revealed that the variant has three sub-lineages. "Our team has been discussing with our virus evolution group. Everything we know about it in terms of transferability, studies that are being done, in India as well as in other countries where this virus is circulating. It is important to note that B.1.617 has three sub-lineages- .1, .2, .3," Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO, said on Wednesday.
The devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to be largely led by this particular variant, along with others from the UK, South Africa and Brazil. (ANI)