Genome network confirms two cases of Omicron sub-variant BA.4

India’s Covid-19 genome sequencing network INSACOG has confirmed at least two cases of BA.4 sub-variant of Omicron — one from Hyderabad and the other from Chennai — according to officials. These would be the first two cases of the variant in the country.

The sample from Chennai was from early May and belonged to a young woman, as per sources.

BA.4 is one of the two sub-variants of Omicron that led to the fifth wave of Covid-19 in South Africa. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention declared the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron as “variants of concern”, anticipating a surge after the variant was detected in several European countries.

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In India, the third wave was driven by the BA.1 and BA.2 sub-variants and BA.2 still constitutes around 62 per cent of the total samples sequenced over the last 60 days, as per an analysis of the data from global database GISAID by

Although the BA.4 and BA.5 variants contain a mutation found in Delta, it hasn’t led to an increase in hospitalisations and deaths in South Africa so far. INSACOG head Dr Sudhanshu Vrati previously told The Indian Express that it was unlikely to lead to increase in severe disease even in India. “We have a four-month experience from other countries. So far, there has been no co-relation of these with an increase in severity of disease, hospitalisations or deaths. That is likely to be the case in India too. A significant proportion of our population has had the infection and been vaccinated.”

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