The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General said on Monday that the situation in India was “more than heartbreaking” as the epidemic had reached unprecedented severity.
“The WHO is doing all it can to provide the necessary equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrations, pre-built mobile field hospitals and laboratory equipment,” Tedros Adhanam Ghebreas told a news conference.
In a matter of days, the “Indian” variant plunged the country of 1.3 billion inhabitants into chaos, with many countries declaring emergency aid. India set a world record of nearly 350,000 infected in a single day on Sunday.
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In the capital, New Delhi, the hospital corridors and families cluttered with Witness beds and stretchers were in vain to provide oxygen or oxygen to their loved ones. Some die on the hospital doorstep.
“The WHO has re-employed more than 2,600 staff to support response in this field, assist with surveillance operations, technical advice and vaccination efforts,” Dr. Tedros said.
“The importance of the vaccine has never been so clear before,” he added.
The WHO said in an email to AFP that it was rapidly analyzing the situation in areas facing an increase in cases, making recommendations and supporting the implementation of these measures.
The Indian health system is plagued by new infections that are somewhat responsible for the “Indian” variant, known by its surname B.1.617. It qualifies as a “double mutant” because it is the carrier of two disruptive mutations in the spike protein of the SARS-COV-2 virus, especially at the source of the COVID-pandemic.
First, the E484Q is close to what has already been observed in the South African and Brazilian variants (E484K), which is suspected to cause a lower efficacy of the vaccine and a higher risk of re-infection. Second, the L452R is also a variant found in California and may cause increased transmission. This is the first time they have appeared together in a variant with significant expansion.
“Depending on its massive circulation and concerns about its prevalence and neutralization,” the WHO has classified it as a “diversity of interest”, but the organization believes more data is needed to confirm that it is a “diversity of concern”.