The World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated that the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, the so-called "Indian variant", is present in 44 countries around the world and may be present in five more countries, according to the latest reports received.
The COVID-19 B.1.617 variant is responsible for the explosion of cases in India, hence its name. The WHO describes it as a cause for concern.
The UK, after India, is the country with the highest number of cases of this version of the coronavirus.
Although it was detected in October in India, its origin does not necessarily have to be in the Asian country. B.1.617 has many mutations. The ones that worry researchers the most are those in various positions of the S protein. They could escape the immune system's antibodies and this means we need to be more vigilant.
However, this does not mean that these variants are beyond the control of vaccines. More research is needed.
Meanwhile, 4,000 people die every day from COVID-19 in India. Estimates put the death toll at around 250,000. It has spread to rural areas where there is no effective control of contagion and death rates. This leads us to believe that the figures are far higher than what the authorities are telling us.
Let's say you find in this part of Asia the ideal place for the spread of the respiratory aerosol virus. 1.4 billion people moving around without strict measures of mask wearing, a rather improvable hygiene and no social distancing.
After the variants that appeared in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, which were considered the most dangerous, we now have the "Indian variant" whose main characteristic is that it is more contagious.
As with the other variants, the problem seems very distant, but nowadays the distances are very short for the virus and the best solution is proving to be the vaccine.
The epidemic seems to be slowing down, but in the words of WHO director Tedros Adhanom; "Last week more than 5.4 million cases and almost 90,000 deaths were reported. Public health and social measures are being relaxed too quickly. Cases and deaths continue to rise rapidly in the South East Asia region, with countries in all regions showing upward trends. We remain in a "dangerous situation" where the spread of variants, increased social encounters, lax social and public health measures, and inequality all come together to drive transmission.
To summarise the director's words: as many people on the planet as possible need to be vaccinated, and the sooner the better. The solution to end COVID-19 is global solidarity.