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 Omicron’s BA.4 subtype – one from Hyderabad and the other from Chennai – according to officials. These will be the first two cases of the variant in the country.

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

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

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In India, the third wave was driven by the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariables and BA.2 still makes up about 62 percent of the total samples sequenced over the past 60 days, according to an analysis of data from the global GISAID database by outbreak.

Although the BA.4 and BA.5 variants have a delta-present mutation, they have not led to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in South Africa to date. INSACOG President Dr Sudhanshu Vratti previously told The Indian Express that it is unlikely to lead to an increase in severe disease even in India. “We have four months’ experience from other countries. So far, there has been no association with an increase in disease severity, hospitalization or mortality. It is likely that this will be the case in India as well. A large proportion of our population has been infected and vaccinated.”

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