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COVID-19 Samples Collected From Parts Of Delhi Show Presence Of BA.5 Sub-Variant Of Omicron

COVID-19: Almost five per cent of samples sent for genome sequencing from central and south east Delhi tested positive for the BA.5 sub-variant and nearly two per cent samples from south Delhi showed its presence

COVID-19 Samples Collected From Parts Of Delhi Show Presence Of BA.5 Sub-Variant Of Omicron
BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron is highly transmissible but does not lead to severe COVID-19 infection: Experts

New Delhi: The BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron has been found in some samples collected from central, south and southeast Delhi between May and June 16, official sources said on Monday (June 27). The findings were discussed at a meeting on June 17 by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), which reviewed the COVID-19 data to check the possibility of any new emerging variant or sub-variant and ascertain the reasons behind the breakthrough infections.

Also Read: Genome Sequencing Of 269 Samples From Mumbai Reveals 99.63% Of Patients Infected With Omicron Sub-Variants

Almost five per cent of samples genome sequenced from central and south east Delhi tested positive for the BA.5 sub-variant and nearly two per cent samples from south Delhi showed its presence. Most of the samples were found to have the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.

According to experts, BA.5 is highly transmissible but does not lead to severe infection.

Sources said a few samples from Delhi that were sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for genome sequencing tested positive for the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-strains of Omicron, which had triggered the surge in the number of cases in January.

They also said two of the 30 samples genome sequenced at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences showed the presence of the BA.5 sub-strain. The samples were sent to the laboratory between June 1 and June 16.

Also Read: What Is Genome Sequencing And How Is It Helping Fight The COVID-19 Pandemic?

“BA.4 and BA.5 are the offsprings of BA.2 and BA.1 and they have undergone mutation. The mutation that has happened has given them a more pronounced characteristic of evading the immunity generated by Omicron that had triggered the infection surge in January,” Lalit Kant, the former head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases department in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said.

He said the mutation has increased the transmissibility of the virus by 10 to 15 times.

If Omicron was faster spreading than Delta, then these are more transmissible. This is the information we have got so far from the work done outside India. In South Africa, it started in January and by March-April, BA.4 and BA.5 replaced the entire original strain. Even in the US and Europe, BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading fast and replacing the previous sub-variants, Mr Kant added.

The senior scientist said the experiences of other countries show that these sub-variants do not cause severe infection or lead to an increase in hospitalisation. These are also able to escape the immunity generated by vaccination.

Also Read: COVID-19 Update: New Omicron Subvariants Found In India, What We Know So Far

BA.5 spreads faster and in some cases, it is also replacing BA.4. Vaccinated people fare better than unvaccinated people but the immunity starts declining six-seven months after immunisation, Mr Kant said.

Delhi has been witnessing a rising number of Covid cases with the single-day figure breaching the 1,000 mark on June 14. The city logged 1,118 fresh cases of the infection on June 14 with a positivity rate of 6.5 per cent and two fatalities.

Since then, the national capital has been logging more than 1,000 cases every day barring last Wednesday, when it logged 928 new Covid cases.

At that time, it was indicated that new sub-variants BA.2.12 (52 per cent samples) and BA.2.10 (11 per cent samples) were showing high transmission and were found in over 60 per cent of the samples from Delhi sequenced.

Also Read: Health Expert Advises To Follow COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour, Avoid Pilgrimages As Cases Surge

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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