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BA.5 Omicron infections rising in India

The BA.5 variant of Omicron, dominant across the world, is increasing in India too; and contributing to nearly 20 – 30 per cent of the fresh cases being reported. The surge in BA.5 variants come even as parts of the country, like Delhi, is witnessing a spike in Covid-19 positivity. There, however, has been no decision on mixing of vaccines (for the booster shot), a senior official of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told BusinessLine.

According to the official, BA.5 variants were around 10-15 per cent of the total reported Covid cases some two-to-three weeks back in India. However, at present, there has been 2x to 3x increase in the number.

The spike, however, is “less worrying” as there has been “no clusters” of infection being reported from anywhere in the country.

“As of now, BA.2 variants continue to be the dominant strain accounting from 70 -80 per cent of the total Covid cases. These will include sublineages such as 2.38, 2.73, 2.74 and 2.75. However, BA.5 cases are now increasing. They are almost double of what they were some 14-21 days back. This too is seen as a cause of breakthrough infections,” the official said.

Genome sequencing data is yet to throw up any “variant of concern”. The Insacog will meet on Friday to take up discussions on Covid data and decide on future course of action, if required.

“Unlike Western countries, there are no reports of any clustering caused due to BA.5,” the official said.

The BA.5 variant has three key mutations in its spike protein which enables greater chances of infection and ability to slip past immune defences. In just over two months, BA.5 emerged the dominant cause of Covid-19 in the United States. Last week, this subvariant caused almost two out of every three new Covid-19 infections in the US, according to CDC data.

In India, the latest Insacog report said, Omicron and its sub-lineages continue to be the dominant variant. Omicron sub-lineages BA.2 and BA.2.38 have mostly been found and “some BA.2.75 has been identified”. However, any surge in hospitalisation or any disease severity has not been observed.

Mixing boosters
According to the official, the Centre is yet to take a call on mixing of vaccines.

Biological E’s protein sub-unit Corbevax (Covid-19 vaccine) was the first to be approved by the country’s drug regulator or DGCI as a heterologous booster in adults, meaning those who have received Covishield or Covaxin as their first or second dose can take it as a third booster shot.

“The Centre has to take a call and its pending,” he said.

Covid cases in Delhi
Meanwhile, Delhi reported 1,372 fresh Covid cases and six deaths (on August 7) with the positivity rate shooting up to 17.85 per cent – the highest since January 2021. The bulletin said 7,686 Covid-19 tests were carried out in the national capital.

India reported 12,751 fresh infections in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 4.41 crore, as per data released by the Ministry. There were 42 deaths, which include 10-backlog cases from Kerala. There were six deaths reported from Delhi, five from West Bengal, and four from Maharashtra.

India’s active caseload currently stands at 0.31 per cent of the total cases. It also declined by 3,703 on a 24-hour basis. The country’s recovery rate is currently at 98.50 per cent. The Hindu BusinessLine

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