… neighbouring India has recorded five cases so far

Nima Wangdi

With the evolution of Covid-19 virus, experts are concerned about the new variant XBB.1.5 causing a massive surge in the world. Some parts of the world are already fighting against the BF.7 and the new variant is said to be capable of infecting even the vaccinated ones.

A report by The Economic Times showed that immune evasiveness is the ability of the virus to infect people who had prior infection or vaccination or both. XBB.1.5 achieved this by creating a rare type of mutation called F486P, located in its RBD (receptor binding domain).

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) report showed that the variant is already taking over in the US and it was projected that the XBB.1.5 strain causes about 40 percent of confirmed U.S. Covid cases. The report also showed that about 75% of confirmed cases in the Northeast are reported to be XBB.1.5.

As of yesterday, the SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) showed that India has a total of five detected cases of XBB.1.5 variants of which three were in Gujarat and one each in Karnataka and Rajasthan.

Going by the online sources, it is unclear where the variant came from but it appears to be spreading quickly. However, there is no suggestion at this point that XBB.1.5 is more severe. But experts believe it is unlikely to do so.

Virologists and epidemiologists have learned that this Omicron sublineage has features that give it the potential to drive a new surge of Covid-19 cases in the US. But is not known how large it would be and whether it could send many more people to the hospital.

The XBB.1.5 is a relative of the omicron XBB variant, which is a recombinant of the omicron BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 subvariants.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health urged the general public to follow the Covid-19 protocols and also get vaccinated as eligible and required with new variants being detected in the world and the neighbouring countries.

People experiencing flu-like symptoms are also asked to get tested at the nearest health facilities.

A corporate employee said that like in Bhutan, a new variant might not be easily detected since most of the people suffering from flu don’t go to the health facilities for tests. He said he was severely sick recently but never went to test.