The World Health Organization said on Monday that the B.1.617 variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern.
“We classify it as a variant of concern at a global level,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told a briefing. “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility.”
The WHO has said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India last December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO Foundation was launching a “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to purchase oxygen, medicines and protective equipment for health workers.