CORONAVIRUS | Health

Delhi reports first case of Omicron’s BA.2.12 strain

A health worker collecting swab sample in Daryaganj in New Delhi.

A health worker collecting swab sample in Daryaganj in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

 The national capital has reported the BA.2.12 variant of the COVID-19 for the first time, which is more transmissible than the  Omicron variant (BA.2) of the virus, according to data seen by The Hindu. 

The BA.2.12 is a sub lineage of the Omicron variant and was spotted during genome sequencing to find the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi. 

Officials are closely monitoring the BA.2.12 variant and the government has not yet officially made any comments about finding the variant in the city.  

For over two weeks, Delhi has been witnessing an uptick in the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of COVID-19 with the rate crossing the 5% mark last week, after remaining below it for months. 

As per the data, BA.2 is still the dominant strain in Delhi, but in five samples the genome sequencing found BA.2.12. Delhi is yet to see any XE variant of Omicron, the data showed.  

Experts said that it is not a cause of concern as there are no reports across the world on BA.2.12 causing more severe infections than Omicron, though it is more transmissible. 

A Delhi government official said that the variant was reported in New York earlier this month and it was found to be about 30% more transmissible than the BA.2 variant. 

The city reported 1,094 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and the positivity rate increased to 4.82 per cent, according to a health bulletin released by the government on Saturday.

What should govt. do? 

Dr. Jugal Kishore, head of the community medicine department at central government-run Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, said that BA.2.12 causes mild infection like Omicron, but its evasion of vaccine immunity is a little higher than the Omicron variant. 

“People recover from it in 3-4 days and the incubation period is also very less. So, Delhi will see the peak of the current wave in about 10 to 15 days,” Mr. Kishore said. 

Dr. Sanjay K. Rai, professor at centre for community medicine in AIIMS, Delhi, said that there has been so far no reports on increased severity due to BA.2.12 and there is no need to worry. 

But both experts said that the government should strengthen genome sequencing and targeted testing and not test everyone. They also said that the Delhi government reimposing a rule to wear masks in public places is not going to help. 

“I don’t think masks help. Even during Delta and Omicron waves, when the implementation was strict with a fine of Rs. 2,000, people got infected and wearing masks did not help. Hence many European countries have removed the rule of wearing masks,” Dr. Rai said. 

Dr. Kishore also had a similar opinion and said that wearing masks is “merely psychological” and gives only a “false protection”.


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Printable version | Jun 7, 2022 7:38:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/more-transmissible-ba212-variant-of-covid-19-found-in-delhi/article65348585.ece