Home / News / India /  Covid-19: XBB sub variant of Omicron still in circulation in India

The new Covid XBB subvariant has continued to circulate in India with around 15% of the samples sequenced in the past few weeks. However, experts have warned that there was no reason to panic as there has been no unusual surge in infection reported in the country.

The XBB is a combination of Omicron’s BA.2.75 and BJ.1 subvariants. It was first detected in Singapore which led to a spike in cases in that country. In India, the first positive sample of the subvariant was reported in October last year. As per the experts, India's herd immunity, and vaccination, appear to be protecting the population well for now.

Another subvariant – BQ.1, which is a BA.5 sub-lineage – that has been responsible for the spike in Covid-19 cases in the US, was seen in 1% (six out of 406) of the samples sequenced. BA.2, however, has largely been the dominant strain in India for over a year, according to experts in the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).

INSACOG is a group of 54 labs that monitor the genomic variations in Covid-19.

As of 4 January, the most prevalent variant in India is the XBB, accounting for 63.2% of cases, according to INSACOG. INSACOG scientists said BA.2.75 and BA.2.10 were also circulating but in smaller numbers. BA.2.75 is the prevalent sub-lineage in northeastern India.

As per the HT report, 11 Omicron subvariants were found among 124 international travellers who tested positive for Covid-19 among 19,000 passengers, screened between 24 December and 3 January.

All 124 passengers have been isolated at health facilities in different parts of the country, and none showed severe disease symptoms. Of the 124 samples, XBB was found in 14 samples and BF 7.4.1 in one sample.

As many as 19,227 international travellers were screened at airports, seaports, and land ports in the said period, of which 124 were found to be Covid-19 positive.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has urged people not to panic about Covid-19, but he has cautioned people to follow directives issued by the government from time to time.

Yesterday, India logged 163 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases declined to 2,423. A decrease of 86 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,41,46,781, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19%.

According to the ministry's website, 220.13 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.

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