Swaminathan said during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Geneva that the mutated version “B1 617” that was discovered in India for the first time in October is definitely one of the main factors in accelerating the spread of the epidemic and out of control in the second largest country in the world by population.
And for the first time since the start of the virus outbreak, India recorded, on Saturday, a record daily death toll from the virus that exceeded four thousand deaths in addition to 400 thousand new infections, but experts believe that these official numbers are much less than the situation on the ground.
Dr. Swaminathanan, an Indian pediatrician and researcher, said that the World Health Organization ranks this mutant among the more dangerous mutants than the original version of the virus because its ability to spread is greater, as well as its ability to overcome the defenses provided by vaccines, and the death rate recorded among patients who are infected Its tags are higher than in patients who develop the original copy.
She explained, “There are mutations of this mutant that increase the rates of transmission, and they can also make it resistant to the antibodies that the body has acquired, either through vaccination or from being infected with the virus naturally.”
However, the senior official of the World Health Organization pointed out that this mutant cannot be held alone responsible for the massive increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in India, noting in particular that the responsibility also bears the Indian government, which apparently abandoned its caution very early and allowed the organization “Mass rallies” were the ideal epicenter of the outbreak.
And Swaminathan pointed out that in a huge country like India, the infection can spread quietly for several months without drawing much attention.
“These early signs were neglected until it reached a point where it took off vertically,” she said.
The doctor warned that combating the outbreak of the epidemic in India is a very difficult task, “because the epidemic is spreading among thousands of people and multiplying at a rate that makes it very difficult to stop it,” warning that vaccination alone will not be sufficient to regain control of the situation.
India, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, has so far given two doses of the vaccine to just 2% of its 1.3 billion people.
Swaminathan warned that “it will take months, if not years, to reach the rate of 70 to 80 percent” of the vaccinated population.
She explained that in the short term, the Indian authorities will have to resort to social and health measures that have already been tested and proven useful in curbing the spread of the epidemic.
The scale of the outbreak in India increases the risk of new, more dangerous mutants emerging.
“The more the virus reproduces, spreads, and transmits, the greater the risk of mutagenesis, and the greater its ability to adapt,” Swaminathan said.
And she warned that “the mutants that accumulate a large number of mutations may eventually become resistant to the vaccines that we currently have,” considering that this “will represent a problem for the whole world.”