How The New Mutant Of COVID-19 Is Affecting The World?
International concern has been renewed by the news that Shenzhen, the commercial and cultural centre of Jilin province, has been put under a lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Despite the ebbing of the third wave in the Omicron-triggered coronavirus virus, researchers with the Indian government’s coronavirus surveillance programme, INSACOG, said that there may not be cause to alarm the public locally.
Several countries, including Europe and the US, have reported a recent increase in COVID-19 cases since mid-November. These cases were primarily triggered by the BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, which was first found in South Africa in late November.
COVID-19 virus variant, Omicron, is the most highly transmissible COVID-19 virus variant. It has two sublineages, BA.1 and BA.2, the latter being even more contagious than the former.
The BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron in India
In India, the BA.2 sub-lineage was already detected in more than 80 per cent of those samples that were subjected to whole-genome sequencing in January of this year during the peak of the Omicron wave. The majority of these cases were asymptomatic and were detected through the use of contact tracing exercises in each state.
It has been reported that a still more mutated version of Omicron’s BA.2 sub-lineage, unofficially known as BA.2.2, has been found in Hong Kong and other parts of China.
On the other hand, scientists back home assert that the worst of the Omicron wave has passed.
As far as he is concerned, BA.2.2 and BA.2 share similar characteristics, and BA.2 has already been the most dominant strain in India for some time, said Anurag Agarwal, director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Indian Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi.
An institute associated with the INSACOG network is the CSIR-IGIB. In addition, he pointed out that BA.2 and BA.2.2 have similar characteristics.
In the opinion of a scientist affiliated with INSACOG that did not wish to be named, the countries and regions that have witnessed a sharp rise in hospitalisations and deaths related to COVID-19 have mostly adopted zero-COVID approaches since the outbreak began.
Until the highly contagious Omicron virus arrived in Hong Kong, COVID-19 numbers were kept to minimal levels in places like Hong Kong, but with the arrival of this highly contagious form of the virus, the situation has changed, the scientist said.
According to Dr Shah, I do not see evidence of an increase in cases in India unless a new variant arises that is significantly different from the ones that have been detected so far.
India’s COVID-19 numbers are on the decline
Over the past few weeks, the number of cases in India has been declining sharply, especially since January 21 when almost 3.75 lakh new cases were recorded in a single day.
Among daily infections, there were 2503 on the 14th day of March, the lowest number in 680 days. The number of active cases, over 36,000, also was the lowest in 675 days. Moreover, 27 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, which puts the number of confirmed deaths (including backlog deaths) below 100 for the third consecutive day.
The Omicron wave in India has been specified as a distinct pandemic wave and has had remarkably low rates of hospitalisations and deaths in comparison with the previous two waves.
The reason for this has been attributed to the high coverage of COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as the mild nature of the mutant virus, which rarely reaches the lungs.
Thai Medical Sciences Department officials have found four cases of infection by the BA.2.2 strain of the COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant in Thailand, but have reminded the public not to panic because BA.2.2 isn’t yet regarded as a particularly concerning variant, Department head Dr Supakit Sirilak said today (Monday).
There was one foreigner and three Thais diagnosed with the strain, though confirmation has not been made. He noted that there were insufficient data to accurately assess the severity of transmissibility of the strain at the moment.
Currently, there are insufficient data that can be used to assess the severity of transmissibility of the strain accurately, added Supakit. He stated that it is too early to make any conclusion regarding whether BA.2.2 will spread faster or be more serious than other variants.
Approximately 386 BA.2.2 cases have been detected in Hong Kong, and more than 289 cases have been detected in Britain, according to the doctor.
Infectious causes of COVID were diagnosed in the Medical Sciences Department between March 5th and March 11th totalling 1,961 out of a total of 1,967 cases, representing 99.69%, while only 6 cases of COVID Delta infections were diagnosed, representing just 0.31%.
It is worth noting that BA.2, which is four times more transmissible than BA.1, accounts for 67.6% of Omicron infections and 32.4% of BA.1 infections, but Dr Supakit noted that BA.2 is steadily rising due to its higher transmission rate.
Unless it is detected in Thailand soon, no strain of BA.3 has yet been discovered.
Currently, according to Munich-based biotechnology company GISAID, the dominant strain of the Omicron variant is BA.1.
The spread of Omicron was rapid, but that of BA.2 was faster. Dr Supakit says that the severity of disease in the two variants is not much different and more people are getting infected by the BA.2 variant due to insufficient availability of hospital beds. In Hong Kong, people were infected because insufficient beds were available for them.
In Thailand, health experts have become concerned about the recent appearance in Hong Kong of a new subvariant of Omicron.
Omicron has now mutated into 3 variants, including the BA.2.2 variant reported in Hong Kong. Dr Chalermchai Boonyaleephan, the vice-chair of the Public Health Commission, says that three variants have been detected. A Covid-19 outbreak is currently sweeping the territory as it is experiencing its worst wave to date, with the highest death rate in the world, notably among elderly care home residents and the unvaccinated.
In addition, he asked the Thai government to screen incoming travellers from Britain and Hong Kong for the Omicron BA.2.2 subvariant, according to Nation Thailand.
As Chanermchai points out, when the infection rates are very high, as they are currently in Hong Kong, “mutation of the virus is more likely.”.
His post suggests that the number of infections and deaths in Hong Kong coincided with the emergence of the BA.2.2 subvariant. The data reveals that Hong Kong currently has about 5,000 infections per million people per week and 30 deaths per million per week. Thailand’s average is 315 cases and 0.85 deaths per million, per week, whereas this figure is much higher.
Government data shows around 53% of people over the age of 80 are not vaccinated, according to a recent Reuters report. The focus of the government on testing the elderly population rather than vaccinating them, according to some, contributed to the crisis they now face.
In regards to the reported mutation, however, the Global Initiative for Sharing Avian Influenza Data has not yet confirmed it as a new variant or linked it to the increase in deaths in Hong Kong. According to Supakit Sirilak of Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences, confirming the identity of a new bird flu variant takes time and the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data is working quickly to gain more data.
Before its report, GISAID had confirmed the existence of the Deltracron variant, which originated in Cyprus. Shortly after its publication, it emerged that the theory that the Omicron and Delta variants merged to create a new mutation turned out to be incorrect. In the last few years, Supakit estimates that GISAID has taken a more cautious approach to verifying the existence of new variants.
Currently, Covid-19 exists in five variants, as confirmed by the organisation. The most common variant is Omicron, which accounts for 90% of all new cases of infection.
As of right now, it is not accepted by GISAID. Until now, (BA.2.2) was only known by this name among Hong Kong scientists. It is also possible to find another strain of the virus in the Philippines called BA.2.3 which is much more common than BA.2.2. The process of establishing a new variant takes time and meets certain requirements. These include the rate at which a strain spreads, its severity, and its ability to escape immunity.”
At the time of this writing, only one Omicron BA.2.2 infection has been discovered in Thailand, according to Dr Chalermchai.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma