The first cases of BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of the coronavirus have been found in India, according to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortium, or INSACOG.
The consortium said that BA.4 subvariant was reported in Tamil Nadu and BA.5 in Telangana.
BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron have been detected across the world. The subvariants had caused the fifth wave of Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, The Indian Express reported. But they have not been associated with disease severity or increased hospitalisation, the consortium said.
In Tamil Nadu, the BA.4 subvariant was found in a 19-year-old woman.
“The patient has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated,” a statement read. “The patient had no travel history.”
Before this, a traveller of South African origin was reported positive for the BA.4 subvariant during sampling at the Hyderabad airport.
In another case in Telangana, an 80-year-old man tested positive for the BA.5 variant of the coronavirus, the INSACOG said. He, too, has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated.
“Contact tracing of the BA.4. and BA.5 patients is being undertaken as a precautionary measure,” said INSACOG.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said on Sunday that “the Covid-19 pandemic will not magically disappear”.
“But we can end it,” said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the global health body. “We have the knowledge. We have the tools. Science has given us the upper hand.”
Tedros, who was speaking at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, warned countries against lowering their guards.
“Almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated,” he said. “Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population – almost all of them high-income countries.”
He said that insufficient political commitment was responsible for the rolling out of fewer number of vaccines.
“There’s no question we have made progress, of course we have,” he said. “Sixty per cent of the world’s population is vaccinated, helping to reduce hospitalisations and deaths, allowing health systems to cope, and societies to reopen. But it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”