New Delhi: The Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus is not presently a “variant of concern” for the World Health Organisation and its infection numbers are still low, Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan told NDTV on Thursday.
She also said there was “no logic” for some nations blocking Covishield from their vaccine passport programme, which will allow hassle-free travel during the pandemic.
“This was done mostly on a technicality since the AstraZeneca vaccine is available under a different brand in Europe,” Dr Swaminathan said.
She said the WHO was in talks with the European medical regulator to include Covishield in the vaccine passports.
Speaking about the agency’s approval of Covaxin, she said a decision was likely by the second week of August.
The Delta plus variant, a new mutant version of the Delta strain first detected in India was classified as a “variant of concern” by the government last month as it warned states to be on guard.
At a time India is emerging from the deadly second wave of Covid and cases have dropped, Delta Plus cases have been found in at least 12 states. Globally, more than 12 countries have detected Delta Plus cases.
The new Delta Plus variant is technically named B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1 and has been formed due to a mutation called K417N in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant. According to experts, the mutation is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect human cells.