Home/ News / World/  ‘Must be seriously worried,’ experts caution as India reports 76 COVID XBB 1.16 variants

The XBB 1.16 variant of COVID-19 has been found in 76 samples across several states in India, according to data from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG). And, noting that the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in India can be attributed to this variant, experts stated that ‘the whole world must be seriously worried’.

The variant has been found in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Delhi, Telangana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Odisha. This variant was first detected in January, when two samples tested positive, while in February, 59 samples were found. In March, until now, 15 samples of the XBB 1.16 variant have been found.

Vipin M Vashishtha, former convenor of Indian Academy of Pediatrics and consultant pediatrician at the Mangla Hospital and Research Centre, Bijnor, said XBB 1.16 variant is causing concern among experts because it has managed to spread rapidly despite India's high levels of population immunity.

"All eyes should be on India! If XBB.1.16 aka #Arcturus could succeed to wade through the 'sturdy' population immunity of Indians that successfully resisted the onslaught of variants like BA.2.75, BA.5, BQs, XBB.1.5, then whole world must be seriously worried!!" he tweeted.

Though XBB.1.16 is capable of turning off both innate & adaptive responses, I wud be surprised if it cud generate a major surge here. All will depend on how well population immunity would resist this at the backdrops of differentially imprinted immunity & its waning overtime! he also tweeted. 

Meanwhile, Dr Randeep Guleria, former AIIMS director and the chairman of the Institute of Internal Medicine, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Director-Medical Education at Medanta, and former AIIMS director said that the rise in COVID cases seems to be driven by the XBB 1.16 variant, but most cases are not severe, so there is no need to panic as of now.

He advised that following COVID-appropriate behavior can help to contain the spread of infection.

India's single-day tally of COVID-19 cases crossed 800 after 126 days on Saturday, while the number of active cases climbed to 5,389. The rise in cases in India is a cause for concern, and experts are urging people to continue following COVID-appropriate behavior to prevent the spread of the virus.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated: 18 Mar 2023, 04:07 PM IST
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