Explained: What is BA.4 Omicron Variant? Can they lead to a Covid surge in India?
New Delhi, May 20: India has reported the first confirmed case of BA.4 Variant in Telangana, Hyderabad. According to the recent data available with the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), the BA4 Omicron variant was identified by geneticists from the sample of a Covid positive individual in Hyderabad, which was collected on May 9.
By now, many of us will be familiar with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. We are also increasingly hearing about new Omicron sub-variants with names such as BA.2, BA.4 and now BA.5.
Since January, the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron have been associated with the fifth Covid wave in South Africa, a fresh wave of infections in the US and Europe.
This is first the first time that the BA4 variant of Omicron has been reported in India. It was further added that the random cases of BA.4 Omicron Variant may also have been detected in other cities in India over the last few days.
Know more about BA.4 Omicron Variant
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron were first reported by South African health officials in January and February, respectively. Since then, both the variants have been largely responsible for triggering a fresh wave of Covid surges in South Africa, Portugal, Germany, the U.K., the U.S., Denmark, France, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Pakistan, Spain, and Switzerland.
The new Omicron variants (BA4 and BA5) have replaced the BA2 variant of the Omicron, which was the active circulating virus in many countries. At present, the BA2 variant is the dominant strain in Telangana and other Indian States. Senior health officials here have said that the impact of the BA4 variant could be only felt in a couple of weeks when they will be able to understand its growth advantage when compared to the BA2 variant of the Omicron.
How deadly is Omicron sub-variant BA.4?
As per the National Centre for Disease Control, it is highly unlikely that there will be a jump in COVID cases in the coming days due to BA.4 variant. It further added that it is also unlikely that the number of hospitalizations will increase rapidly due to Omicron BA.4 variant.
Is the virus mutating faster?
You'd think SARS-CoV-2 is a super-speedy front-runner when it comes to mutations. But the virus actually mutates relatively slowly. Influenza viruses, for example, mutate at least four times faster.
SARS-CoV-2 does, however, have "mutational sprints" for short periods of time.
(with PTI inputs)