A leading virologist said there was no need to panic just days after clusters of recombinant Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants were reported from around the world.
“Nothing to suggest at this moment that these recombinants have any additional advantage compared to Omicron,” Vinod Scaria, a scientist at the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Scaria said more epidemiological data was awaited as more genomes get reported from across the world.
He said that while recombinations in SARS-COV-2 are not as frequent as seen in influenza, there have been multiple recombination events reported in the Covid pandemic.
Some previously named lineages include XA (UK and India), XB (US) and XC (alpha+delta) in Japan, Scaria said.
On February 11, Britain had listed the Delta-Omicron recombinant variant of SARS-COV-2 under ‘signals currently under monitoring and investigation’.
Additional clusters of Delta-Omicron recombinant genomes have been reported from Queensland in Australia and another seven recombinants have been reported from the east coast of the US.
Recombination occurs when fragments of two different variants of a virus infect the same host cell.
Meanwhile, the Centre has asked states and union territories to review, amend or do away with additional COVID-19 restrictions after considering the trend of new cases and positivity rate in their regions, stating sustained downward trend in the nationwide case trajectory.
In a letter to sent to chief secretaries and chief administrators of all states and UTs on Wednesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the coronavirus pandemic in India is showing a sustained declining trend since January 21.
In earlier months, in view of the high case trajectory, certain states had imposed additional restrictions at their borders and at airports, he said.
While effectively managing the public health challenge of COVID-19, it is equally important that movement of people and economic activities should not be hampered by additional restrictions imposed at state-level points of entries, Bhushan said in the letter.
“Presently, as the case trajectory across the nation is showing a sustained downward trend, it will be useful if states/UTs review and amend/do away with the additional restrictions so imposed after considering the trend of new cases, active cases and positivity within the state and UT,” he said.
With the changing epidemiology of the pandemic globally and in India, existing guidelines aimed at minimising the transmission and circulation of the virus have been reviewed and updated.
The Union Ministry of Health accordingly revised its guidelines for international arrivals on February 10, he stated.
Bhushan underlined that states and UTs must also continue monitoring the trajectory of cases and spread of infection on a daily basis.
They may also follow the broad five-fold strategy of Test Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour.
“I’m sure that under your continued leadership the state and UT will continue to address the challenge of COVID-19 while minimizing its impact on lives and livelihood of the people,” Bhushan said in the letter.