Pune: The XBB.1.5 subvariant tally has gone up to five in India from one, reported from Gujarat a few days ago. The latest data from INSACOG revealed that at least three samples from Gujarat and one each from Karnataka and Rajasthan recently showed the presence of this subvariant, which now makes over 40 per cent Covid cases in the US.
A top INSACOG official said, “So far, nothing unusual has been reported in the five patients infected with XBB.1.5 though we are currently assessing the clinical data. Many mutations are being reported in Omicron, but as of now, there is no indication that these newer subvariants will cause something adverse in India. One just has to be careful and follow Covid appropriate behaviour as long as the virus is circulating.”
An official from the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), involved in genome sequencing of the Gujarat samples detected with XBB.1.5, said, “All the three XBB.1.5 patients recovered within a few days of home quarantine. Only one had a travel history to the US, while another had visited the Statue of Unity in Kevadia in Gujarat. The third patient had no travel history. One of the three patients was asymptomatic and another had mild symptoms like cough and uneasiness. The third had cough and fever. Thus, the symptoms were mild.”
One of the patients detected with the subvariant tested positive on December 24, 2022, and tested negative on RAT on December 29, indicating fast recovery, the official said. “Currently, all the variants we are detecting are descendants of Omicron. Since XBB.1.5 is also a version of Omicron, it seems to be causing mild disease. There is evidence to show that there wasn’t a comparable increase in Covid hospitalisations or mortalities in the country during the third wave caused by Omicron,” he said.
Dr Rakesh Mishra, director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, said, “Subvariants of this kind might emerge, but we do not expect a major surge in Covid cases in India because of them. India has not seen any noticeable surge in cases despite their detection. Since travel has picked up in a big way, one can assume that there would be more XBB.1.5 cases in India than the current records. Our major strength against such Omicron subvariants is the hybrid immunity the combination of vaccination and natural infection.”