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More Contagious Subvariant Of Omicron Detected In Russia: What You Need To Know

According to data released by the Union Health Ministry at 8 am Sunday, India reported 8,582 cases of COVID-19. In the last 24 hours, 4,435 patients have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 44,513 patients with active infections in the United States.

Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases reported by health officials recently, there should not be cause for concern, they said on Saturday, noting that no new variants have been found. In addition, the increase is limited to a few districts. However, the report also pointed out the non-adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and people's disinterest in getting a booster dose, which may have contributed to the expansion of the population susceptible to infection.

One source indicated that 17 districts, including seven in Kerala and five in Mizoram, have a weekly positivity rate of over 10 per cent, while in 24 districts, including seven in Kerala and four each in Maharashtra and Mizoram, the positivity rate is between five and 10 per cent [1][2].

More Contagious Subvariant Of Omicron Detected In Russia

  • In Russia, a subvariant of the COVID-19 Omicron strain that is more contagious has been found, a senior official at the national consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has said [3].
  • The TASS news agency reports that the BA.4 sublineage of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has been detected in Russia.
  • Kamil Khafizov, head of genome research at Rospotrebnadzor's Central Research Institute for Epidemiology, told reporters that two national laboratories had submitted the viral genome of the BA.4 sublineage to the VGARus database.
  • Currently, the BA.2 variant and its sub-variants are dominant in Russia, accounting for approximately 95 per cent of all new cases. Studies have shown that BA.4 and BA.5 are a little bit more transmissible than the early forms of Omicron.
  • Due to good herd immunity acquired through vaccination and previous waves of the novel Coronavirus, no new Omicron sub-variants are currently 'spreading' in Russia.
  • The BA.4 variant was first detected in a specimen collected in South Africa on 10 January 2022. The BA.4 strain shares many of the same mutations as the original Omicron strain but has more in common with the BA.2 strain. It possesses additional mutations, some of which could change its characteristics [4].
  • In South Africa, scientists found that sublineage of the Omicron coronavirus variant could evade antibodies from earlier infections well enough to cause a new outbreak [5].
  • In India, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana have reported cases of BA.4. However, these variants are not associated with disease severity or increased hospitalization [6].
  • The Director-General of the World Health Organization warned in May that the Omicron subvariant BA.4 and BA.5 were causing a rise in the disease in unvaccinated countries and that the BA.2 subvariant was still dominant globally.

Why Does The Omicron Sub-Variant Spread Faster Than The Original?

Research on COVID-19 is concentrating on understanding why a relative of the main Omicron variant is replacing it in various countries. According to a laboratory study of BA.2, its rapid rise may result from being more transmissible than BA.1. Other preliminary studies indicate that BA.2 can overcome immunity from vaccination and previous infection with earlier variants. However, it is not much superior to BA.1.

The steady increase in the prevalence of BA.2 in multiple countries suggests that it has an advantage over other circulating variants in terms of growth [7][8].

Scientists believe that a significant reason why Omicron quickly replaced Delta is its ability to infect and spread among people who previously had been immune to Delta. This is one possibility for BA. 2's rise due to its superior capabilities when compared to other variants.

On A Final Note...

The Union Health Ministry is closely monitoring the situation in states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and Karnataka, following the five-point strategy and expanding testing. Furthermore, the ministry has asked the states to monitor clusters of new Covid cases and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Story first published: Sunday, June 12, 2022, 12:14 [IST]
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