Omicron in community transmission stage in India, says GoI

A healthcare worker on duty to take samples for COVID. [FPK File Photo]

New Delhi: The Omicron variant of coronavirus is now in the community transmission stage in India and has become dominant in various metros where new cases have been developing exponentially, the Government of India’s genome sequencing labs consortium report said.

The BA.2 lineage, an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, has also been detected in a significant portion of the country, the INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium) said in its weekly bulletin.

INSACOG is the forum set up under the Health Ministry of India to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of circulating strains of COVID in India.

Most of the Omicron cases have been asymptomatic or moderate so far, hospitalisations and ICU cases have increased in the current wave, the report said.

“Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially. BA.2 lineage is in a substantial fraction in India and S gene dropout based screening is thus likely to give high false negatives,” the report said. S-gene drop-out, like Omicron, is a genetic variant.

The report said, “The recently reported B.1.640.2 lineage is being monitored. There is no evidence of rapid spread and while it has features of immune escape, it is currently not a variant of concern. So far, no case has been detected in India”.

It said, the further spread of Omicron in India is now expected to be through internal transmission, not foreign travelers, and a revised sampling and sequencing strategy of INSACOG is being worked out to address genomic surveillance objectives in the wake of dynamic changing scenario of virus infection.

As per the report, COVID appropriate behavior and vaccination are the main shields against all form mutations of SARSCoV-2 virus. INSACOG has sequenced 1,50,710 samples and analyzed 1,27,697 samples so far.


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