Pune: Most anti-body evasive strain new Covid variant, XBB, a recombinant lineage between two Omicron sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75, has already notched up over 70 cases across Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, as per health officials.
The XBB variant belongs to the Omicron lineage, scientifically known as BA.2.10 and is a combination of BJ.1 and BA.2.75. It was detected in the US first in August. Expert cautions the XBB variant will reach its peak in mid – November, after the festivities are over.
The new omicron sub-variant XBB was responsible for a sharp surge in cases in Singapore. It is now gaining ground in India, with at least 10-15 per cent samples sequenced in the country showing its presence.
There has been a 17.7 per cent hike in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra between October-10 and 16 and around 88 per cent of India’s new infections were caused by BA.2.75 while XXB caused 7 per cent of infections.
BA.2.75 continues to dominate the scene in India and is better at evading the immune system than the original omicron was.
There is a lurking threat that this can cause a spike in new Covid cases during festive season informed Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor, National Communicable Disease Control Programme.
Raising concern on the recent spike in Covid cases in Maharashtra and the first case detected of Omicron BQ.1 subvariant in Pune in the country, the noted Epidemiologist said on Thursday that the BQ.1 variant is a descendant of the Omicron BA.5 variant, which is currently dominant in the US.
“These are all next-generation strains or offspring of the omicron variant of SARS-Cov-2. Since Omicron’s emergence in January this year, country did not see a completely new variant of the virus,” he said.
He cautioned these sub-variants, called sublineages, also have the potential to cause surges, so they should not be ignored.
The pandemic control expert pointed out that majority of new infections in the country were caused by BA.2.75 variant of omicron’s BA.2
“According to a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, the BA.2.75 variant of Omicron largely evades neutralising antibodies in the blood and is resistant to several COVID-19 antibody therapies,”he added.
He said the new Covid variant XBB is causing spike in cases in some states.
He warned that the XBB variant will reach its peak in mid – November, after the festivities are over.
“People should be cautious and wear masks correctly for self protection, especially the elderly and those with comorbidities because Covid-19’s new genetic variants, XBB and XBB1, are more contagious than its older genetic variants,” he said.
He stated that both risk groups must receive the booster/preventive dose of the vaccination.