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Hyderabad: The BA2 variant of the SARS-CoV-2, which is behind the recent surge of Covid infections in China, South Korea, Europe and US, has continued to remain the dominant strain in Telangana and in the country, based on the data from Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium (INSACOG).

The genome sequencing of Covid samples by INSACOG, which submits its data to GSAID, the global initiative launched to track new variants of the coronavirus, taken up in the last 45 days has revealed that BA2 and its lineages have remained the dominant circulating variants.

Based on the trends, the BA2 variant and its lineages are present in over 80 per cent of the samples that were genetically sequenced by laboratories affiliated with INSACOG. In Telangana, as of April 12, based on INSACOG and GSAID data, the geneticists have sequenced 114 samples of BA2.10 variant while another 26 samples were of BA2.12. Apart from Telangana, the BA2.10 Omicron variant was found in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

Senior public health officials and experts involved in tracking the Omicron variants have pointed out that the dominance of BA2 variant augurs well for the Indian States. They point out that since the third Covid wave between December 2021 and January, 2022 was driven by BA 2 variant of Omicron, already a large section of the population would have acquired natural immunity, in addition to vaccine-induced immunity.

According to estimates, while the sero-survey results of ICMR taken up across the country are yet to be released, experts estimate that natural immunity will be anywhere between 85 per cent to 90 per cent among the general population. In fact, a study conducted by Hyderabad-based AIG Hospitals on quantifying natural immunity among Covid recovered patients in Hyderabad indicated that around 86 per cent of them had acquired natural immunity.

The dominance of BA2 as the circulating variant indicates that so far no new major SARS-CoV-2 variant with an ability to escape immunity and trigger severe Covid disease has emerged in the last 45-days, experts said.

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Author: Howard Caldwell