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Omicron Variant BA.4, BA.5 Will Not Lead To Case-upsurge In India, But Don't Drop Guard

Dr RJayadevan, co-chairman of the IMA's national task force said that the newly detected sub-lineages of the Omicron variant will not cause a fresh COVID wave.


Image: PTI

Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chairman of the Indian Medical Association's national task force said that the newly detected sub-lineages of the Omicron COVID variant will not result in a wave of new infections but urged people to remain vigilant. Dr Jayavedan's comments come after India witnessed COVID cases caused by the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The COVID variants were first found in India in Tamil Nadu and Telangana as reported by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) on May 22. BA.4 and 5 have been circulating globally but till now have now caused disease severity and hospitalisation. 

"The sub-variants of Omicron (BA.4 and BA.5) are not going to cause a surge in cases, still, we need to be vigilant. You know that Omicron took off at a much higher rate in many countries, including India, but South Africa's experiences reassure us that these two sub-lineages are not going to cause a large scale problem if we are careful enough," Dr Jayadevan told ANI.

The IMA task force's co-chairman further informed both the variants of Omicron of the COVID-19 infection are just sub-lineages and not new viruses, "Basically, Omicron took off from one branch of the genomic tree and these are the smaller branches of Omicron itself so they are not new viruses. We know that this virus is continuously adapting to the human host in order to escape our immunity and also to travel faster between people," said Dr Jayadevan.

Dr Rajiv said although both the variants triggered a rise in cases in South Africa, new infections started receding at the same rate. He said, "BA.4 and BA.5 caused a surge in cases a couple of weeks ago, but they came down rapidly. They did not go as high as the Omicron did back in November, December last year."

'Omicron is unlike other variants'

The concern with Omicron is, that now that it has run its course, there is the possibility of a virus from an altogether different branch of the genomic tree to surface.

Dr Rajiv said, "Omicron is unlike other variants as its every sub-lineage is evolving to escape itself. We are more concerned about, will there be a whole new variant coming from a completely different branch of the genomic tree? And that is the concern we have because now Omicron has run its course for about six, seven months since November." He also stressed on the importance of sequencing anything new, anything unusual.  

(Image: PTI)

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