WHO says India Covid variant of 'global concern'
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the coronavirus variant first found in India last year as a "variant of global concern", BBC reports.
It said preliminary studies show the B.1.617 mutation spreads more easily than other variants and requires further study.
The variant has already spread to more than 30 countries, the WHO says.
Three other variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been given the same designation.
A mutation is elevated from a "variant of interest" to a "variant of concern" (VOC) when it shows evidence of fulfilling at least one of several criteria, including easy transmission, more severe illness, reduced neutralisation by antibodies or reduced effectiveness of treatment and vaccines.
The variant is being studied to establish whether it is responsible for a deadly surge in India, which is currently overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.
India reported 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths on Monday, down from record peaks. Experts say the actual figures could be far higher than reported.
Surging cases have meant that oxygen shortages continue to be a problem and have spread beyond the capital, Delhi.