Mumbai: At a time when the state government is struggling to combat communicable diseases due to heavy rains and floods, Maharashtra on Saturday reported a record 35 patients of BA.4 (4) and BA.5 (31), as per the latest report of the BJ Medical College, Pune. In addition, 8 patients were found to be afflicted with BA. 2.75; incidentally, all patients were from Pune.
According to the state public health department, BA.4 and BA.5 are the newest members of Omicron’s growing family of Coronavirus sub variants. They have been detected in many countries worldwide though BA.2.75 is relatively new.
According to a recent report in the Guardian, the extremely transmissible BA.5 variant is rapidly displacing the previously dominant BA.2 variant. Another fast spreading strain is the BA.2.75 variant – nicknamed “Centaurus” – which was first detected in early May. BA.2.75 has also since been detected in about 10 other countries, including the UK, US, Australia, Germany and Canada. In addition to its apparent rapid growth and wide geographical spread, virologists have been alerted by the sheer number of extra mutations BA.2.75 contains, relative to BA.2, from which it is likely to have evolved.
Likewise, The BA.5 sub-variant, which is the dominant strain in the US, is four times more resistant to Covid vaccines, according to a study published in ‘Nature’. The study found the variant is four times more resistant to messenger RNA vaccines than earlier strains of Omicron, which include Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines. In the Us, the the strain has been found to be 'hypercontagious' and is contributing to increases in hospitalisations and ICU admissions, said a medical report on Thursday.
According to the state public health department, the aforesaid samples, detected recently, were tested at INSACOG labs at Pune and Mumbai. ‘’These samples are from May 31 and June 30, 2022. Detailed epidemiological investigation of these cases is currently underway. This has taken the tally of BA.4 and BA.5 patients to 113 and that of BA. 2.75 patients to 40,’’ said public health department additional chief secretary Pradeep Vyas.
The district-wise BA.4 and BA.5 patient break-up is: Pune (65), Mumbai (33), Nagpur, Palghar and Thane (4 each) and Raigad (3). The district-wise BA 2.75 patient break-up is: Pune (20), Nagpur (14), Akola (4) and Thane and Yavatmal (1 each).
Vyas told the Free Press Journal: The advisory to all districts remains the same, irrespective of the variant. High positivity districts will increase testing and send all severe acute respiratory infections and influenza-like illness samples for testing. The district administration has been asked to use present campaign period to improve precautionary dose vaccination.’’
The World Health Organization has already cautioned countries about BA.2.75 and continues to monitor the variant.