Worry not, India doing fine, say virologists on new strain

Kang’s remarks come in the backdrop on the highly transmissible Omicron strains, mostly BF.7, causing a spike in coronavirus cases in many countries, including China.
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Representative ImageReuters

NEW DELHI: Renowned virologist Gangandeep Kang on Friday said India has reported a few cases of Omicron sub-variants XBB and BF.7, but they have not driven an upsurge, and she does not expect a spike in COVID cases. Infectious disease specialists Dr D Suresh Kumar (Apollo Hospitals) and Dr Anantha Krishnan (Prashanth Hospitals), speaking to DT Next, also attested to the same.

Kang’s remarks come in the backdrop on the highly transmissible Omicron strains, mostly BF.7, causing a spike in coronavirus cases in many countries, including China.

“They are, like all Omicron sub-variants, very good at infecting people because they escape the immune response that prevents infection, but are not causing more severe disease than Delta,” the professor at the Christian Medical College’s division of gastrointestinal sciences tweeted.

Kang said “at the moment, India is doing fine” but maintained that surveillance should be ensured to “detect signal of any changes in the behaviour of the virus”. BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.

“China is opening up fast at a time when their population has low levels of exposure to natural infection, Kang said, adding that “the current circulating variants are Omicron, which have evolved in vaccinated populations and are therefore very infectious”.

Kang said most of China’s population has received two doses of vaccines. “Most infections can be managed at home, but sheer numbers mean that even a small proportion getting severely ill, means that many people will have severe disease and that a proportion of those will die,” she tweeted.

“We already had BA 5 variant dominant in India during January. BF.7 is not of concern because we’ve already had Omicron dominant in the whole country earlier,” pointed out Dr D Suresh Kumar.

“The concern right now would be reinfections in the case of BF7 but we’ve seen that too in the case of XBB variant as well,” said Dr Anantha Krishnan.”

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