Highly contagious India COVID variant spreading rapidly in the US


The highly contagious COVID-19 variant that first emerged in India is spreading at a rapid rate in the US — and now makes up 7 percent of new cases, data shows.

The dramatic rise of the B.1.617.2 variant comes after it accounted for only 1 percent of new cases stateside at the start of May, according to a report from Outbreak.info.

The data revealed that the variant, which experts suspect is 60 percent more transmissible, reached its high of 7 percent of samples sequenced on May 26.

The World Health Organization last week classified the variant as being one of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis.

“There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told reporters.

It is now predominant in some parts of India and believed to be a driving factor in the country’s devastating second wave.

The cases have overwhelmed the health care system, forcing patients to wait for beds in some regions.

Footage emerged this week of the disastrous conditions at a hospital in the eastern district of Mayurbhanj, where patients were seen naked in their beds and collapsed on the floor waiting for assistance from staffers.

More than 28 million cases have been confirmed in the South Asian nation, while the number of deaths have reached at least 331,000, according to health ministry data.

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