BA.2.38 has become prevailing sub-variant of Omicron strain in Mumbai, Pune: Officials


Whole genome sequencing of more than 800 samples – mainly from Mumbai and Pune – between April and mid-June showed that BA.2.38 is the predominant subvariant Omicron According to officials, the SARS-CoV2.

Analysis 117 COVID-19 Patients who test positive for the BA.2.38 subvariant indicate symptoms similar to those shown by the BA.2 parent variant, they added.

“We have also registered the presence of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants among genome-sequencing samples, but they are still few,” said Dr. Rajesh Karyakarte, Maharashtra’s coordinator for genome sequencing. “At present, samples are testing positive for both BA.2 and BA.2.38,” he added.

On June 19, Maharashtra reported 4,004 new cases, of which more than 2,000 were in Mumbai and about 400 in Pune. Dr. Pradeep Awate, Maharashtra Surveillance Officer, said authorities are focusing on genome sequencing and even asked Mumbai to send 1,000 samples to Pune labs.

“We are seeing a sub-variant of BA.2.38 in addition to the BA.2 Omicron variant. BA.4 and BA.5 are still smaller. Samples from other regions are also being sought,” he said.

Notably, subvariant BA.2.38 has been identified in many GISAID sequences from India. Researchers from the BJ College of Medicine, the National Institute of Virology and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research also evaluated 117 Covid-19 patients with BA.2.38 and found similar clinical characteristics to the BA.2 Omicron variant.

Pune has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks. Nearly 400 new cases were reported on Sunday, marking a five-fold jump in new infections. On June 1, there were about 80-plus cases in the county.

However, infectious disease experts have said that few patients require hospitalization.

It’s unlikely that everyone gets tested, and therefore most may not even seek treatment, several doctors said.

“Symptoms affect the upper respiratory tract, and treatment usually consists of taking anti-allergic pills in addition to paracetamol,” said Dr. Amit Dravid, an infectious disease consultant at Noble Hospital.

“Of the 40 cases of Covid-19 treated based on OPD in the last two weeks, at least 10 were infected with Covid-19 in the past, and most were fully vaccinated,” Dr. Dravid said.

Dr. Parikshit Prayag, an infectious disease consultant at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital, also said that patients had mild symptoms.



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