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80-90% Delhi Covid Samples Test Positive For Omicron Sub-lineages

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As much as 80-90% of blood and throat swab samples collected from covid-19 patients in Delhi have been found to contain Omicron sub-variants, according to researchers at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). 

The researchers said they found eight sub-lineages of Omicron in the samples. 

However, experts are studying which sub-lineage and recombinant of Omicron has public health implications in terms of the severity of cases. 

Omicron is now the predominant strain of covid-19 globally and the most transmissible variant till date. This variant has four sub-types, BA.1, BA.2, BA.3 and BA.4. Of these BA.1 and BA.2 are the pre-dominant strains in India.

The researchers cited above found that one particular sub-lineage, BA.2.12, was present in 80% of the samples they studied.

“As of now, we have noted that  Omicron is the pre-dominant strain circulating across the city. It has several lineages and sub-lineages. Sometimes, when a particular virus prevails in the environment, it automatically undergoes mutation. We found eight different types of sub-lineages of Omicron in about 80-90% of the samples we collected from the city,” said (Prof) Dr Ekta Gupta, Virologist at ILBS.

“Now, the point is we have to see what is the public health relevance of these sub-lineages,” she added, pointing to the need for people to continue wearing masks and following other covid prevention measures. 

Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is now studying BA.2.12 to determine how long it has been circulating in the city, and its transmissibility and severity rate.

“Gathering information on public health requires time. It is a dynamic process; it requires time and sufficient data. We first detect the virus and co-relate with public health concerns and then we see the trend based on the number of cases. Yes, we have detected 7-8 different sub-lineages and recombinant of Omicron have been detected and these are being studied by INSACOG from public health perspective to see its future relevance,” said a senior official from NCDC requesting anonymity. 

India has reported 2,541 new cases in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of active covid cases to 16,500. 

Doctors say although there is a surge in cases, because of vaccination there are very few severe cases. They attribute the surge to peole letting their guard down.

 Dr Sanjeev Nayar, pulmonologist at BLK Hospital said: “A few days ago, we were reporting hardly one or two cases. But now, we have seen spikes in covid cases and a few admissions in the hospital. Most of the patients are vaccinated due to which cases are mild with cough, cold and fever. This increase in cases is due to the sudden lack of covid appropriate measures. People should understand that covid is still here.” 

Delhi leads with 3,975 active covid cases, followed by Kerala (2712), Uttar Pradesh (1199), Karnataka (1718), Haryana (1780) and Assam (1356).

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