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Home / News / India /  Omicron BA.4, BA.5 contain Delta mutation: Should you be worried as India confirms 1st two cases?
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INSACOG on Sunday confirmed the first cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 in India. A  19-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu has been found to be infected with BA.4, while an 80-year-old man from Telangana was confirmed to have BA.5. Now, as none of the two patients have travel histories, it seems that the sub-variants are now spreading locally. Hence, should we be worried about the new mutant variants?  

Should we be worried about Omicron BA.4 and BA.5? 

Experts around the world have pointed out that there is no need to panic, however, there are 3 things that we should take note of: 

  • All new Omicron sub-variants – BA.2.12.1, BA.2.13, BA.4 and BA.5 contain the L452 mutation that is also present in the Delta variant. This provides them the ability to escape the immunity granted by a previous infection and also attach better with human cells. Regarding this, epidemiologist Tulio de Oliveira told Wire in an interview, “if we were in the first phase of the pandemic, this could have been the case. Since most of the pollution is vaccinated now and already have immunity from the previous variant, so the risk is much less now."
  • Also unlike BA.2, BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.12.1 had a “stronger" capacity to evade immune protection granted by three doses of vaccines. Still, the vaccine helps in reducing the severity of the disease. 
  • Since the new variants have been detected in South Africa, there is a slight uptick in hospital admissions, though it is much lesser than the 1st Omicron Wave. Also, not many cases are severe and the death rate is low. 

What are the symptoms of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants? 

The scientists studying the new sublineages said that so far, the key difference between the newer versions of omicron and the previous ones is transmissibility. The White House’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has estimated that it is 50% more transmissible than the original omicron lineage.

They also said that the coldlike symptoms vaccinated and boosted people feel as a result of an omicron infection are mostly the same regardless of the subvariant. "The omicron symptoms have been pretty consistent. There's less incidence of people losing their sense of taste and smell. In a lot of ways, it's a bad cold, a lot of respiratory symptoms, stuffy nose, coughing, body aches and fatigue," said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, the system medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health in Detroit.

(With inputs from agencies)

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