Officials of India’s Covid-19 genome sequencing network INSACOG confirmed the first two cases of BA.4 sub-variant of Omicron. So far, the cases have been identified in Hyderabad and Chennai.
According to sources, the sample from Chennai was from early May and belonged to a young woman, as per sources.
In a statement on Saturday, May 21, Tamil Nadu health minister, M A Subramanian, stated that one case of BA.4 sub-variant of Omicron has been confirmed in the state.
This was the second case of the BA.4 sub-variant reported in India while the first case from the subvariant BA.4 in India was detected in Hyderabad on Friday.
It is known to all that coronavirus possesses exceptionally high mutating capacity which enables its variants to create several subvariants rapidly. BA.4 is one such subvariant of Omicron which was primarily responsible for the reported fifth wave of Covid-19 in South Africa.
Considering the detection of the variant in several countries of Europe, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention declared the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron as “variants of concern” as a surge is likely to take place.
Despite having a mutation similar to the Delta variant, detection of BA.4 and BA.5 so far has not caused an increase in hospitalisations and deaths in South Africa so far and according to INSACOG head Dr Sudhanshu Vrati, it is unlikely to lead to an increase in severe disease even in India.
While making this comment, he cited the reference of four-month experience from other countries where so far no statistical correlation has been established between detection of the aforementioned subvariants and increase in severity of disease, hospitalisations or deaths.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is expected to issue a bulletin on the case on Monday, May 23.