The World Health Organization has designated the coronavirus variant that lashes across India as a “variant of global concern”.

The more serious classification is based on the virus B.1.617 mutation causing easy transmission, more severe illness, reduced neutralization by antibodies or reduced effectiveness of treatment and vaccines.

The WHO classification of India Covid variant as ‘global concern’ comes at a time India is struggling with thousands of people dying every day and tens of thousands of others getting infected everyday.

The WHO Foundation on Monday launched the “Together for India” appeal to raise funds to support WHO’s work in India, including the purchase of oxygen, personal protective equipment and medicines.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern over COVID cases and deaths still increasing rapidly in the South-East Asia region.

He said the shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic.

High- and upper-middle income countries represent 53 percent of the world’s population, but have received 83 percent of the world’s vaccines.

By contrast, low- and lower-middle income countries account for 47 percent of the world’s population, but have received just 17 percent of the world’s vaccines.

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