India reports first case of Omicron BA.4. Here’s all you need to know about new Covid variant

Edited By: C Krishnasai
New Delhi Updated: May 20, 2022, 07:09 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Scientists at the INSACOG said that they identified the new variant after collecting the sample of a Covid positive person from Hyderabad on May 9

India has reported its first case of BA.4 Omicron variant in India, according to the recent data by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), the group of genetic laboratories that are working to identify new variants of SARS-CoV-2 from Indian Covid positive patients. The first case was reported from southern Hyderabad city.

Scientists at the INSACOG said that they identified the new variant after collecting the sample of a Covid positive individual on May 9.

There also reports more BA.4 cases being reported across India, but no official confirmation has been issued regarding in this so far.

First detected in South Africa

The BA.4 Omicron variant was first reported from South Africa in January this year, along with another BA.5 variant.

Currently, these two variants have become dominant and are driving up cases in the country. On Thursday, the country recorded 4,146 new cases with a test positivity rate of 18.3 per cent, compared to 581 cases and a positivity rate of 4.5% on March 28.

More infectious

The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages are more infectious than the earlier BA.2 lineage, which itself was more infectious than the original Omicron variant, Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, South Africa, told Bloomberg. He is also a member of the WHO group tracking the evolution of COVID-19.

Bypasses vaccines

The US scientists studying the new sub-lineages have said that the key difference between the newer versions of Omicron and the one that previously rocketed through the US is transmissibility.

Also read | European health officials warn Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 can escape vaccines and immunity

White House’s chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has estimated that it is 50 per cent more transmissible than the original Omicron lineage.

Which other countries reported?

The sub-variants have been reported across several European nations and the United States.

BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected in Botswana, Germany and Denmark, among other countries, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said Thursday.

BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading more rapidly in some countries than previous Omircon variants, specifically BA.1 and BA.2.

Also read |  WHO tracks two new Omicron subvariants: What are BA.4 and BA.5 strains?

At least 16 countries have reported about 700 cases of BA.4, reports CNBC.

(With inputs from agencies)

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