India is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases that experts say has come following the loosening of infection control measures and an increase in viral variants, the Wall Street Journal reports. It notes that in February, India had fewer than 10,000 daily cases of COVID-19, but on Friday, it reported more than 332,000 cases.
The Journal adds that a number of viral variants of concern are circulating in India, including the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 variants. But there is also another variant there that is raising worries, it notes. According to NPR, that variant, dubbed B.1.617, harbors two key mutations — L452R and E484Q — that are worrisome, as those mutations or similar ones are present in other viral variants of concern and may affect transmissibility and possibly reduce vaccine efficacy.
But whether the B.1.617 variant is driving the surge of COVID-19 cases in India is unclear, NPR says. "We also know the B.1.1.7 [variant] is circulating in India, and we know that P.1. [variant] is also circulating there, too. So they could also play a role in this surge. We simply don't have the data yet," Scripps Research Institute's Kristian Andersen tells it.