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The COVID variant from India: What we know so far

The latest variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus, dubbed B.1.617, was first found in India and then in other countries around the world. It is still unclear how dangerous it is.

The number of new coronavirus infections has continued to rise sharply in India. Health authorities recorded more than 320,000 new cases and a further 2,771 deaths in the past 24 hours among its total population of 1.38 billion people. Several countries, including Germany, have pledged assistance.

It's too early to say whether the new variant of the virus, B.1.617, is responsible for the rapid increase in infections, but it is being treated as a possible cause.

What role do virus variants play?

In many other cases and countries, new variants have played a role when infections jumped.

Some experts are also concerned that the Indian variant may be turning into a type of "super mutation" that will continue to spread across the world. Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that he is "deeply concerned" about the situation in India, the WHO tweeted.

And the Indian variant has spread to other countries. Health authorities have detected variant B.1.617 in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United States, Australia and Singapore. The British health ministry has also reported several dozen cases.

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