Officials are concerned about the variant given that it combines several mutations in the spike protein that could help the virus evade the human body’s immune system.
“There is some available information to suggest some increased transmissibility of B.1.617,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the WHO’s coronavirus response, said at a news briefing Monday.
Van Kerkhove referred to a preprint that suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617, adding that more research was needed.
“Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant and this lineage and all of the sub-lineages,” she said.
More information about the variant will be released in a report by the global health agency Tuesday, Van Kerkhove said.