The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog) held a meeting on Friday to review the Covid situation and has not found anything “unusual”, a member of the network said.
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According to this member, XBB continues to be the dominant sub-lineage in the country.
“In our review meeting on Friday, Pirola was discussed at length. But fortunately we have not seen it so far in sewage surveillance, community surveillance or even in hospital surveillance,” he added.
Pirola, or BA.2.86, has so far been detected in countries including the UK, Canada, Denmark, Israel and the US. “It has not spread and is limited to some countries which means that it is not infectious like the other variants and also not causing severe disease,” said another member of the network, suggesting that there is nothing to be worried about though they are still keeping a strict vigil. Pirola has become a cause of concern for counties where it is spreading due to its 34 mutations, which could potentially make it easier to evade vaccines, experts said. India’s Covid cases have not seen any unusual pattern. “The severity remains the same as it was and there has been no clustering seen…,” a government official said.
Experts, however, said Pirola is definitely a variant to watch.
“As you know all major variants start small and a rise in cases only occurs after a critical mass is reached. So, let’s not be fooled by the initial mild behaviour and relatively few cases reported, also keeping in mind the gross drop in genomic sequencing as well as Covid testing around the world. Whether India is at risk depends on our population level of immunity, travel patterns, weather, super spreading events, the level of precautions taken in the community and the type of variants that will be circulating here,” said Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chairman of Indian Medical Association’s national Covid Task Force.