Friday, August 19, 2022

BA.2.75 not severe, won’t bring fourth wave: INSACOG co-chair

Omicron sub-variant, BA.2.75, which is driving the latest Covid-19 surge in India, is not severe or brought serious diseases and risk of death despite being more transmissible than BA.2 responsible for the second Covid wave in India.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dr N K Arora, co-chair of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), said the cases are not being reported from any cluster or any one particular area, despite the transmission and efficiency of the virus being 20-30 per cent more as compared to BA.2.
“The new sub-variant has not led to any major increase or expansion of the case pool or risk of severe disease. These cases are all spread out. I would be worried if they were occurring in one or two districts. It is happening in a scattered manner. This means it is not something which is either spreading too fast or causing too many severe cases,” said Arora, head of the Covid-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).
An Israeli researcher first flagged the new sub-variant, and then the World Health Organisation (WHO) also said they were following BA.2.75 detected in India and other countries.
So far, around 70 BA.2.75 infections have been reported in the country from different states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
When asked whether the surge in Covid cases in the country due to the new sub-variant could lead to a fourth wave, Arora said India is not entering the fourth phase of the pandemic.
“We are very much part of the third wave led by Omicron because any new wave has to be with a new variant of concern. What we are seeing are all off-springs of Omicron. There should not be any concern about this new sub-lineage,” he added.
“What is important is whether any of these new sub-lineages cause severe or serious diseases, which requires hospitalisation or requires ventilation or which is likely to lead to death,” he said, adding that deaths are being reported from those individuals who were already admitted for some other diseases, like cancer, heart, lung, liver and then they got infected with Covid.
India has been seeing a continuous Covid-19 surge since June.
Arora said that the reason is mainly that people have become complacent, attending substantial social gatherings, travelling, and also due to the increased transmission ability of the sub-variants.
“We are keeping a close watch through genomic and sewage surveillance to see if there is anything new which is of public health concern or could cause severe disease to an individual,” he added.

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