JULY 4, 2022
An Israeli health expert on Sunday said that India has a new sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron lineage of coronavirus, BA.2.75, reported IANS. As per the expert, the new Omicron sub-variant is already present and has been detected in about 10 Indian states. This included 69 such cases from India were Delhi (1), Haryana (6), Himachal Pradesh (3), Jammu (1), Karnataka (10), Madhya Pradesh (5), Maharashtra (27), Telangana (2), Uttar Pradesh (1), and West Bengal (13). On the other hand, the Indian Health Ministry is yet to officially confirm the detection of the sub-variant in the country.
In a series of Tweets, Dr. Shay Fleishon, with the Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, said that 85 sequences from eight countries have been uploaded so far on Nextstrain, an open-source platform of genomic data.
According to the expert, the Omicron sub-variant has also been reported by seven other countries besides India. This includes Japan (1), Germany (2), the UK (6), Canada (2), the US (2), Australia (1), and New Zealand (2), according to the Nextstrain data.
“No transmission could be tracked based on sequences outside India yet,” Fleishon wrote on Twitter.
Is the new BA.2.75 Omicron sub-variant dangerous?
Dr. Fleishon says it is too soon to tell whether BA.2.75 will be the next dominant variant, however, the rise seen in these sub-variants has been “at a level not seen in second-generation variants from other variants of concerns”. The lab also noted that the “BA.2.75 will have antibody escape that is similar to that for BA.4/5 with respect to the current vaccine”.
This was based on Omicron lineages with mutations in the S1 section of the spike protein and specifically in the part of the spike protein which the virus uses to connect to and gain entry into cells.
Further, until now these second-generation variants have only been found in a few cases within one region. This is the first time a second-generation variant from Omicron has spread to multiple regions.
What other scientists say
The sub-variant is worth “keeping a close eye” on, Thomas Peacock, a scientist at Imperial College London, said on Twitter.
The BA.2.75 was also flagged by Bloom Lab at the Fred Hutch research institute in the US.
In a tweet, posted this week, the institute said the sub-variant “is worth tracking, as it has appreciable antigenic change relative to its parent BA.2”.
The lab pointed to two mutations as key: G446S and R493Q.