Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization, stated on Friday that there were over 300 sub-variants and the fact that XBB is a recombinant virus is cause for alarm in light of India’s announcement of a highly contagious new COVID-19 variant.
She also emphasised how immune evasive the new variant is. “Omicron has more than 300 sub-varieties. The recombinant virus XBB, in my opinion, is the one that needs to be worried about right now. Recombinant viruses were something we had seen previously. Because it is very immunological evasive, it can get past the antibodies. As a result of XBB, we could conceivably witness another wave of illnesses in some nations “Swaminathan stated.
She made her comments during a media briefing in Pune.
We are also following derivatives of BA.5 and BA.1, which are likewise more transmissible and immune evasive, she added, putting emphasis on the tracking of other XBB compounds. The virus will continue to develop and grow more transmissible as it does so. There is currently no evidence from any nation that these new sub-variants are more clinically severe. The intensity seems to be similar even if the virus is infecting more people in some nations.
We need to keep monitoring and tracking, she added, highlighting the significance of it.
We have observed a decrease in testing across all nations, and a decrease in genetic surveillance during the past few months. In order to continue tracking the variations as we have been doing and investigating, we must at the very least maintain a strategic sampling genomic surveillance.”
The senior scientist emphasised the benefits and recommended for the use of the tools at hand.
“The good news is that we have a variety of tools at our disposal, with vaccines being the most crucial. Our objectives for vaccination coverage are 100% of those over 60 and 100% of healthcare and frontline employees.
We have a target of achieving 70 per cent of the country but subgroups are more essential since they are the groups that are most prone to face morbidity and mortality,” she added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Maharashtra saw a 17.7 per cent jump in coronavirus cases compared to last week, according to a state health department bulletin.
New CoVid cases have been reported by the state, including those caused by the XBB sub-variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has been found in Kerala and other regions of India.
In addition, Maharashtra has reported incidences of Omicron sub-variants BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1, which were discovered for the first time in India on Monday in a patient’s sample from Pune.
A recent spike was observed in the fast-spreading variation XBB, which is a recombinant lineage between the Omicron sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75.
Tuesday’s high-level discussion about the appearance of new subvariants of Omicron between senior health officials and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya resulted in the decision to continue mask use and COVID19-appropriate behaviour nationwide.
Additionally, expanding surveillance and genome sequencing have been suggested by the group of scientists, physicians, and top administrators.
Additionally, the health professionals advocated mission mode acceleration of the COVID-19 cautionary dose to the eligible population.
According to official sources, VK Paul, a member of the Niti Aayog, NK Arora, the chair of the COVID-19 working group, representatives from NTAGI, NEGVAC, and other senior health authorities were there.