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INSACOG Confirms Presence of BA.4 & BA.5 Variants of Covid in India; Contact Tracing on

As per reports, both the subvariants have been detected in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
(Photo: Reuters)

As per reports, both the subvariants have been detected in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana. (Photo: Reuters)

BA.4 and BA.5 are subvariants of the Omicron variant that was behind driving the third wave of the Covid pandemic in January of this year

Central body INSACOG confirmed the detection of BA.4 and BA.5 variants of the Covid-19 virus in India on Sunday.

BA.4 and BA.5 are subvariants of the Omicron variant that was behind driving the third wave of the Covid pandemic in January of this year. As per reports, both the subvariants have been detected in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

A press release issued by INSACOG stated that a 19-year-old female in Tamil Nadu was found infected with the BA.4 variant of SARS-CoV-2. As per the statement, the patient was fully vaccinated and exhibited only mild clinical symptoms. She also had no travel history. Prior to this, another South African traveler was found positive for the BA.4 variant of Covid on arrival at the Hyderabad airport.

On the other hand, the BA.5 variant of Covid was detected in an 80-year-old man in Telangana. As per findings, the patient was also fully vaccinated and exhibited mild clinical symptoms. The patient had no travel history.

While authorities have assured that contract tracing of the BA.4 and BA.5 patients is being undertaken as a precautionary measure, experts are of the opinion that these newest strains of Covid-19 are not associated with disease severity or increased hospitalization.

First Detected in Africa

The subvariants BA.4 alongside BA.5 were first identified in South Africa in January this year, while India was undergoing the third wave of Covid-19. BA.4 and BA.5 then went on to become the dominant variants in circulation in that country collectively replacing 55 percent of the other Covid-19 variants over the next 4 months according to the National Institute of Communicable Disease-South Africa.

Less Severe Than Omicron But More Contagious

Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected in more than a dozen countries driving Covid outbreaks across the world, according to the World Health Organization.

According to WHO’s technical lead on Covid Maria Van Kerkhove, at least 16 countries have reported about 700 cases of BA.4, while more than 300 cases of BA.5 have been found across at least 17 countries, CNBC reported.

The new sub-variants do not cause more severe infections as the original Omicron strain, but they appear to be more contagious, Van Kerkhove was quoted as saying during a Q&A on the organization’s social media platforms on Wednesday.

The European CDC had last week declared the two as ‘variants of concern’, anticipating “a significant overall increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks and months.”

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first published:May 22, 2022, 21:42 IST