Omicron in Community Transmission Stage in India

Omicron strain of Covid-19 is in the community transmission stage in India and has become dominant in various metros where new cases have been developing exponentially, according to the recent bulleting of INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium).

The BA.2 lineage, an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, has also been detected in a significant portion of the country, it said.

While most Omicron cases have been asymptomatic or moderate thus far, hospitalizations and ICU cases have increased in the current wave, according to the INSACOG’s January 10 report, which was posted on Sunday.

“In India, Omicron is now used in community transmission and has grown prominent in a number of metro areas, where new cases are increasing at an exponential rate. Because the BA.2 lineage is prevalent in India, S gene dropout-based screening is expected to result in a high number of false negatives,” it said.

S-gene drop-out, like Omicron, is a genetic variant. “The B.1.640.2 lineage, which was newly discovered, is being closely monitored. There is no evidence of rapid expansion, and while it displays immune-evasion characteristics, it is not yet a variety to be concerned about. In India, no cases have been found so far “According to the INSACOG.

In its January 3 bulletin, which was also posted on Sunday, the INSACOG stated that Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become prevalent in Delhi and Mumbai, where new cases have been increasing at an exponential rate.

“Further spread of Omicron in India is now expected to be through internal transmission rather than foreign travelers,” the INSACOG said. “In the wake of the dynamic changing scenario of virus infection, a revised sampling and sequencing strategy of INSACOG is being worked out to address genomic surveillance objectives.”

“Adequate behavior and immunization are the key defenses against all SARSCoV-2 virus mutations,” it stated. The INSACOG, which is part of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, reports on SARS CoV -2 genomic surveillance across the country by sequencing samples from sentinel sites, as well as thorough state-by-state district analysis in some states.

INSACOG has sequenced 1,50,710 samples and analyzed 1, 27,697 samples so far.

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