COVID Variant Found in India Has Spread to at Least 44 Countries

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India Covid crisis
India Covid crisis

Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency via Getty Health workers and relatives wearing personal protection equipment move the body of a COVID-19 fatality at a mortuary in New Delhi, India, on April 21, 2021.

The COVID-19 variant that is responsible for an alarming number of infections and deaths in India has now spread to 44 countries worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The variant, B.1.617, was classified as a "variant of concern" by WHO in a weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 published on Monday. Per WHO, the variant is more transmissible than the original virus and may even be resistant to treatment, including the COVID-19 antibodies.

The B.1.617 variant has been identified in COVID-19 cases in 44 other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, China and Singapore, according to WHO's report.

Of those countries, Britain has the most cases of the B.1.617 variant, other than India.

RELATED: White House Banning Travel from India amid Deadly COVID Second Wave

India Covid crisis
India Covid crisis

Prabhat Kumar Verma/Pacific Press/Shutterstock India coronavirus

According to WHO, India alone currently accounts for 95 percent of COVID-19 cases and 93 percent of deaths in the South-East region area, and 50 percent of global cases and 30 percent of global deaths.

On Tuesday, the country reported 348,421 new cases and a record 4,205 deaths from the virus, according to The New York Times' coronavirus database.

Overall, the global number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths decreased the past week, with over 5.5 million cases and over 90,000 deaths, WHO's report stated.

RELATED: See How India Is Trying to Manage a Raging COVID Crisis as the U.S. and Other Countries Send Aid

In India, hospitals, graveyards and crematoriums have become overwhelmed with new cases and deaths in heavily populated areas of the country. As life-saving oxygen is in short supply, some patients have died in the streets while searching for a hospital. Meanwhile, crematoriums have had to increase their funeral pyres. In the city of Bhopal, some have had to increase their capacity from 12 pyres to 50, according to the Washington Post.

Experts have also said that the actual number of COVID cases could be 30 times higher than what's been reported.

India Covid crisis
India Covid crisis

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Gett India coronavirus

President Joe Biden announced in April that the U.S. will join several European countries in sending aid to India. The U.S. will provide financial assistance and raw materials for vaccines.

"Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," Biden wrote on Twitter.

Travel to the U.S. from India was also banned by Biden and the White House.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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