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Delta Plus Not A 'Variant of Concern' for WHO Presently, Says Chief Scientist

File photo of WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. (Image: AFP)

File photo of WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. (Image: AFP)

On the issue of nations blocking Covishield from their vaccine passport programme, Swaminathan said there was 'no logic' behind it.

WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Thursday said the Delta Plus variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus is not a “variant of concern" for the World Health Organisation presently and the number of cases due to the variant are still low. “At the moment, there is no reason to think that Delta Plus is a new ‘variant of concern’. We need not panic over every new mutation," NDTV quoted her as saying.

On the issue of nations blocking Covishield from their vaccine passport programme, she said there was “no logic" behind it. “This was done mostly on a technicality since the AstraZeneca vaccine is available under a different brand in Europe," she said.

The WHO was in talks with the medical regulator of the European Union over inclusion of Covishield in the vaccine passports, she further said

Last month, the Indian government had categorised the Delta plus variant, first detected in India, as a “variant of concern" and warned states to be on guard. The Delta Plus variant has been found in 12 states in the country and in more than 12 countries across the world.

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Technically named B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1, the Delta Plus variant, has been formed due to a mutation called K417N in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant. According to experts, the mutation is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect human cells.

‘Decision on Approval for Covaxin by Second Week of August’

On WHO’s approval of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Swaminathan said a decision was likely by the second week of August. Covaxin, which was approved by the Indian Drug Controller in January, has been awaiting approval from WHO for emergency use authorisation.

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first published:July 01, 2021, 19:33 IST