Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially, noted Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) in its latest bulletin on Sunday.
INSACOG, jointly initiated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) among others is a consortium of 38 laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2
The two-page bulletin of January 10, released on Sunday, adds that while most Omicron cases so far had been asymptomatic or mild, hospitalisations and ICU cases had been increasing in the current wave. The threat level remained unchanged.
The recently reported new SARS-CoV-2 variant — B.1.640.2 — lineage was being monitored, it added and said that there was no evidence of rapid spread and while it had features of immune escape, it was currently not a variant of concern. ““So far, no case detected in India,’’ said the bulletin.
It further said that BA.2 lineage was a substantial fraction in India and S-gene dropout based screening was thus likely to give high false negatives. Tests suitable for PCR based screening applicable to all Omicron lineages had been approved for use. S-gene drop-out was a genetic variation like that of Omicron.
Meanwhile the INSACOG, in its bulletin of January 3 had warned that Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in Delhi and Mumbai, where new cases have been rising exponentially.It further said that the spread of Omicron in India is now expected to be through internal transmission, not foreign travellers, 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.
“Most Omicron cases so far have been asymptomatic or mild. Since initial detection has primarily been in vaccinated travellers, this should not be taken to mean that Omicron infection will also be mild in high-risk unvaccinated subjects. The threat level remains high and requires constant vigil as the situation rapidly evolves with community spread,’’ it had said adding that COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and vaccination were main shields against all form mutations of SARS-CoV-2 virus.