New Delhi: The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is in the community transmission stage in India, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium (INSACOG) has said in its latest bulletin, PTI reported. The INSACOG isa forum set up under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of circulating strains of COVID-19 in India.
Also, Omicron has become dominant in multiple metros where new cases have been rising exponentially, according to the latest bulletin of the INSACOG.
The BA.2 lineage, which is an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, and is nicknamed ‘stealth Omicron’, has been found in a substantial fraction in the country. As many as 530 cases of stealth Omicron have been reported in India, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
In its January 10 bulletin released on Sunday, the INSACOG said that hospitalisations and ICU cases have increased in the current wave of Covid-19 and threat levels remain unchanged.
According to the PTI report, the bulletin said: “Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple sectors, 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.”
In the sub-variant of Omicron, the genetic deletion on the spike protein which produces the S-gene target failure in some polymerase chain reactions is absent. The original strain has a mutation in the form of the deletion of the S-gene, while the sub-strain does not have the same mutation.
Quoting the INSACOG, the PTI report said that the recently reported B.1.640.2 lineage is being monitored. The INSACOG added that there is no evidence of rapid spread. While it has features of immune escape, it is currently not a variant of concern, the INSACOG said. So far, no case of the B.1.640.2 lineage has been detected in India.
In its bulletin of January 3, which was also released on Sunday, the INSACOG said Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in Delhi and Mumbai where new cases have been rising exponentially.
The INSACOG said that 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, according to the PTI report.
It added that Covid appropriate behavior and vaccination are main shields against all form mutations of SARS-CoV-2.
So far, the INSACOG has sequenced a total of 1,50,710 samples and analyzed a total of 1, 27,697 samples, the PTI report said.
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