Known as B.1.617, the variant has become the most common in the Asian country, making up an estimated two percent of all cases, according to However, it has three sublineages, one of which accounts for about 20 percent of cases in India.
It has been called a ‘double mutant’ by India’s Ministry of Health because it has two mutations on parts of the virus that help it hook onto our cells.
Despite accounting for fewer than 0.1 percent of all COVID-19 infections in the U.S., naming the variant as a VOI suggest officials fear it may have mutations that make the virus spread more easily, cause more serious illness or escape vaccine immunity.
The CDC listed the coronavirus variant first identified in India, known as B.1.617, as a ‘variant of interest’ (VOI), meaning officials believe the variant may have mutations that make the virus spread more easily, cause more serious illness or escape vaccine immunity
B.1.617 accounts for at least 2% of COVID-19 infections in India and is believed to be partially responsible for the surge that saw 412,262 cases recorded on Thursday. Pictured: A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of oxygen in Ghaziabad, India, May 6
B.1.617 was first discovered in October in the Maharashtra state, which is the second most-populous state in India and where Mumbai is located.
The variant has 13 mutations, including two common ones that occur on the spike protein, which the virus used to enter and infect cells, called E484Q and L452R.
L452R, which is also found in the homegrown California variant, has been linked to increased transmissibility.
E484Q, also seen in the Brazilian and South African variants, helps the virus evade antibodies generated by either natural infection or from vaccines.
‘It has the worst of two very bad mutations out there and that’s a big concern,’ Dr Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told DailyMail.com last month.