First case of Covid's BA.4, BA.5 variants confirmed in Tamil Nadu and Telangana.(Photo for representation)
The presence of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in India with two cases being detected in Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron have been associated with the fifth Covid wave in South Africa and recently the US and Europe have also reported cases.
In a statement on Sunday, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said a 19-year-old woman in Tamil Nadu has been found infected with the BA.4 sub-variant of the virus.
The patient has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated. She had no travel history.
In another case, an 80-year-old man in Telangana has tested positive for the BA.5 sub-variant of the virus. He has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated. The patient had no travel history.
Earlier, a South African national was reported positive for the BA.4 sub-variant of Omicron on arrival at the Hyderabad airport.
Scientists are concerned about two mutations that both the sub-variants carried on their receptor binding domain which makes the virus better able to evade the antibodies from previous infection or vaccination.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week designated the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as variants of concern, anticipating “a significant overall increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks and months.”
According to ECDC, the variants could fuel increases in infections, with a 12 per cent to 13 per cent growth advantage over the Omicron’s BA.2 sub-lineage.
Also read: Two new Omicron variants pose danger of triggering next COVID wave