Here is an emergency pandemic alert. The two sub-variants that have been driving up the Covid-19 numbers in the US, especially New York City, are detected in as many as seven states in the country.
As per the INSACOG data reported by GISAID, samples collected in the last week of March show gene sequences of new sub-variants in transmission in the country. A total of 5 sub-lineages of BA.2 variant have been detected in states like Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The INSACOG has identified the variants as sub-lineages of BA.2 -the stealth Omicron variant. The new sub-variants detected in the country are as follows. BA.2 was the driver of 3rd wave in India during January 2022.
- BA.2.12 - Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra
- BA.2.12.1 - Delhi
- BA 2.10 - Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan
- BA.2.10.1 - Tamil Nadu
- BA.2.3 - Tamil Nadu.
- BA.2.9 - Gujarat.
A glance at the INSACOG data reveals that the sub-variant BA.2.12 has a pan-India transmission. The presence of BA.2 sublineage has been detected in as many as 7 states. The other sub-lineages detected are yet to attain the pan-Indian character.
BA.2.12 - The Trigger?
The uptick in the daily caseload of the virus in the country has been reported in states like Delhi (965 new cases), Haryana (367), Kerala (337), Uttar Pradesh (200), Maharashtra (179), Karnataka (100), Mizoram (91) and Tamil Nadu (39).
In tandem with the rise in cases in the above-mentioned states, the INSACOG genome sequencing has documented the transmission of BA.2.12 in a majority of the states, except Mizoram.
Moreover, data shows that BA.2.12 has been detected in the majority of the samples collected in the last week of March. And coincidentally, a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country commenced on April 16.
The initial uptick in cases looks all the more alarming when the daily tests conducted in the country dropped from over 6.77 lakh on March 22, 2022, to around 4.48 lakh on April 21. Also, only around 0.7 percent of the positive samples in the country were sent for genome sequencing. Genome sequencing was discontinued in many states, including Odisha.
The dominance of BA.2.12 among the fraction of samples sequenced hints at the sub-variants likely role in triggering the viral count in the country.
BA.2.12 Has Wings?
In mid-April, the New York State Health Department had announced the emergence of highly contagious subvariants in the City.
As per the release, "For the month of March, BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 rose to collectively comprise more than 70 percent prevalence in Central New York and more than 20 percent prevalence in the neighbouring Finger Lakes region. Data for April indicate that levels in Central New York are now above 90 percent. The Department's (Wadsworth Centre) findings are the first reported instances of significant community spread due to the new subvariants in the United States."
However, the statement mentioned that as of now, there is no evidence of increased severity by these subvariants, though they are under close observation.
Meanwhile, the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the BA.2.12 subvariant that was detected only in March, now shares 19 percent of the viral burden in the United States (The table is given above).
Check Symptoms, Take Test
As per the New York State Department of Health, if any of the following symptoms are noticed, then take the Covid-19 test.
- Trouble Breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Fever or chills
Odisha - The Challenges
The State has increased its test count recently, especially after the rise in cases in Delhi. On April 18, the total Covid tests in the State was 17,834. The same has increased to 21, 195 on Apr 20. The number of RTPCR tests has risen to 7767 from 7555 on April 18.
But the total test count is not the yardstick to assess the State scenario. Since the triggering of cases by two contagious sub-variants has been mainly witnessed in cities - from New York to New Delhi, Faridabad etc), the low test count in State's big cities like Bhubaneswar (only 389 tests on Apr 20), Berhampur-Ganjam (703), Sundargarh (607) tells the tale.
The Apr 20 testing data of the State shows that a large number of tests were done in less vulnerable districts like Gajapati, Koraput, Mayurbhanj etc.
At present, the tests conducted in the hotspot districts during the first and second waves are in the lower range. Moreover, reports suggest that RTPCR tests are the gold standard for identifying the new sub-variants. The Antigen tests (RAT) proportion is high in majority of hotspot districts in the State.