With the festive season on, India has reported new cases of two new sub-variants of Omicron called BF.7 and BQ.1. One new case of BQ.1 variant has been reported in Pune. While earlier, a case of BF.7 was reported in Gujarat. In addition to this, Maharashtra has reported new Covid XBB, another sub-variant of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Similar cases were earlier detected in the state of Kerala.
Though India has recorded the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in six months, health experts are worried about its recent surge in other countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued a warning against the highly infectious BF.7, which was first reported in China’s Inner Mongolia region, which has led to severe lockdown restrictions in that country.
Experts feel both variants have mutations that make them highly contagious and can affect the immune system of the infected people. BQ.1 and B.Q.1.1 are sub-variants of BA.5, which is responsible for 60 per of Covid cases in the US at present.
US top immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci has also issued a warning about Omicron’s BA.5 subvariant -- BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, and said the two subvariants have dangerous "qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have".
On the other hand, XBB, which has similar properties as sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75, is a fast-spreading variant, as per experts. This variant has caused a spike across Singapore recently.
More variants and effects
According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, the BA.2.75.2 variant of Omicron largely evades neutralising antibodies in the blood and is resistant to several COVID-19 antibody therapies.
The findings by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, suggest a risk of increased SARS-CoV-2 infections this winter unless the new updated bivalent vaccines help to boost immunity in the population. The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses the spike protein to enter and infect human cells.
"While antibody immunity is not completely gone, BA.2.75.2 exhibited far more dramatic resistance than variants we've previously studied, largely driven by two mutations in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein," said the study's corresponding author Ben Murrell, an assistant professor at Karolinska Institutet.
BA.2.75.2 is a mutated version of another Omicron variant, BA.2.75. Since it was first discovered earlier this year, it has spread to several countries but so far represents only a minority of registered cases.
Before this, India has reported cases of various variants like Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, B.1.6, Omicron, XE, XJ, and XBB. In all, it has reported over 44.6 million Covid cases to date.
India’s latest count
The health ministry has said that India on Tuesday recorded a single-day rise of 1,542 coronavirus infections, which is its lowest in last six months. The active cases comprise 0.06 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.76 per cent, as per the statement.
Although statewise, Maharashtra has witnessed 17.7 per cent increase in Covid cases in the last one week. On Monday, the state registered 201 cases, while Pune reported 23 new cases. The case fatality rate in Maharashtra is 1.82 per cent.
(With agency inputs)
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