Home / News / India /  BA.2 subvariant of Omicron more prevalent in India: Centre

The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus is more prevalent in India now, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director Dr SK Singh said on Thursday while addressing a press conference on the Covid-19 situation in India.

READ: Can BA.2 Omicron sub-variant escape RT-PCR test?

Singh said BA.1 and BA.2 were found in sequenced samples while BA.3 has not been found yet. "We were getting more samples of BA.1 earlier mostly found in travellers but now we are seeing that BA.2 has become more prevalent in the community," he said.

Singh further said that a huge rise from December has been seen in the number of Omicron samples in January.

"In genome sequencing, a huge increase in Omicron samples was seen between December and January," he said.

In December, only 1,292 omicron samples while 17,272 samples were of Delta variant and of AY series of Covid-19 in genomic sequencing.

In January, 9,672 omicron samples were found which was about 75 per cent of total sequenced samples and AY lineage was found in 3,201 samples and Delta was found in 1,578 samples, he said.

He further said that Delta variant has been found predominantly in Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

"It is not that everywhere we are finding only Omicron cases, we are also seeing Delta variant cases which shows that Delta variant impact has not completely ended. In severity and hospitalisation, we can also find delta so it is important we don't look at hospitalised cases unilaterally that it is omicron so it would be mild," he said.

While little is known of the BA.2 omicron sub-variant, including whether it’s more infectious or deadly, it’s widely considered harder to detect because of its unique genetic traits that make it difficult to distinguish from other Covid variants.

Earlier, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), in its latest bulletin, said BA.2 lineage, an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, has been found in a substantial fraction in the country.

Apart from India, BA.2 cases have also been registered in Britain, Sweden and Norway, but to a much lesser extent than in Denmark.

Meanwhile, a prominent Harvard immunologist said that Covid-19 will become endemic and we can't eradicate it. He added that vaccinations and drugs will make some impact.

These remarks were made by Dr Shiv Pillai, Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology, Director, Harvard Immunology Graduate Program at the Harvard Medical School.

In an interview with ANI, Dr Pillai said, "I think it will become an endemic state where we will start to live with some level of the virus, hopefully, less virulent virus. So it's not such a bad disease for most people. I think that's where we will end up in maybe a few years. I think vaccinations will get better and the drugs are going to change things a lot."

The Harvard Immunologist said that drugs like Paxlovid and Cipla will probably change the course of this pandemic.

"So I think yes, we will get very good control with drugs and vaccines and we will be in a better place but we won't eradicate, it will be around," he said.

Noting that Omicron is going through community spread all over the world, he said, "In India, there is a variant of Omicron BA.2 that's also spreading, it is different from Omicron. In fact, Omicron BA.1 is the original, but it's slightly different."

Not much is yet known about stealth omicron, including how transmissible it is or whether it evades vaccines better, but WHO is investigating whether to make it a separate variant of concern.

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