New Delhi, January 3: At least four variants of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infection are circulating around the globe since the pandemic struck the world in late 2019, the World Health Organisation or WHO has said, according to an India Today report. The WHO further said the new strains of SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus could be a reason behind unusual public health events that were reported. India's COVID-19 Count Surges to 1,03,23,966 With 18,117 New Cases in Past 24 Hours.

According to the UN health agency, a variant of coronavirus with a D614G substitution in the gene encoding spike protein emerged in late January-early February last year. The D614G mutation, over a period of months, has replaced the initial coronavirus strain that was identified in China, it added. By June 2020, the WHO said, the mutation became a more dominant form of the coronavirus circulating globally.

Another variant called "Cluster 5" was identified in Denmark in August and September last year. "Due preliminary studies conducted in Denmark, there is concern that this variant may result in reduced virus neutralisation in humans, which could potentially decrease the extent and duration of immune protection following natural infection or vaccination," the WHO report said.

In December last year, the UK government detected a new and more infectious variant or coronavirus, which was referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01. This variant is not phylogenetically related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was already circulating in the UK at that time. It remains unclear how and where SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 originated.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 03, 2021 11:10 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website