The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variants of concern (VOC) are spreading in at least 139 countries while the global case count has reached 148.763 million as of April 28, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The VOC are also known “new Covid variants.”
In its weekly report, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the new Covid-19 cases globally have increased for the ninth consecutive week, with nearly 5.7 million new infections reported in the last week – surpassing previous peaks.
The number of new deaths, on the other hand, rose for the sixth consecutive week, with over 87,000 new fatalities reported.
Based on its data collected from April 18 to 25, the UN body said all regions are reporting decreases in case of incidence apart from the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Southeast Asia reported the highest number of new cases at 2,269,114. But while a number of countries in the region are reporting an increase, WHO said India accounts for the vast majority of new infections from this regional trend and 38 percent of global cases reported in the past week.
WHO attributed to B.1.617 and the spread of other variants such as the B.1.1.7 and the B1.351 the spike in the number of infections in India.
The UN body said these variants may be “playing a role” in the surge as the new B.1.617 had been detected across several regions in the Asian nation.
WHO also believes B.1.617 has a higher growth rate than other circulating variants in the Asian nation, suggesting potential increased transmissibility.
“Other drivers may include challenges around the implementation and adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM), and social gatherings (including mass gatherings during cultural and religious celebrations, and elections). Further investigation is needed to understand the relative contribution of these factors,” it said.
In the same report, WHO said a total of 139 countries have recorded cases with the B.1.1.7 variant, 87 countries with B.1.351, and about 54 nations with the P.1 variant as of April 27.
“As surveillance activities to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants are strengthened at local and national levels, including by strategic genomic sequencing and sharing full genome sequences with publicly available platforms such as GISAID, the number of countries/areas/territories reporting VOCs continues to increase,” the WHO said.Based on the latest data from the JHU for April 28, India has a total of 17,997,113 confirmed Covid-19 cases. SOVEREIGNPH