New coronavirus variants raise concerns in India and beyond

The rapidly changing coronavirus produced yet another hyperinfectious Omicron variant. It is worrisome to scientists as it is established in India and appears in many other countries, including the United States.

Scientists say a variant called BA.2.75 could spread rapidly and avoid immunity from vaccines and previous infections. It is unclear if it can cause more serious illness than other Omicron variants, including the world-famous BA.5.

Matthew Vinicker, Dean of the Department of Clinical Virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said: “But especially in India, transmission rates appear to indicate such an exponential increase,” he said, as it has not yet been determined whether it will surpass BA.5. ..

Still, the fact that it has already been detected in many parts of the world, even with low levels of virus surveillance, is “an early sign that it is widespread,” said Shishi Luo, head of infectious disease. Says. helixA company that provides virus sequence information to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lipi Thukral, a scientist at the Institute of Science and Industry in New Delhi-Institute for Genome Integrated Biology, said the latest mutants have been found in several distant states of India and are more than any other mutant. He said it seems to be spreading rapidly. It has also been detected in about 10 other countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada. Two cases have recently been identified on the west coast of the United States, and Helix identified a third case in the United States last week.

It is the numerous mutations that separate this new variant from its predecessor, Omicron, that fuels expert concern. Some of these mutations, according to Vinicker, are in regions associated with peplomers, which may allow the virus to bind to cells more efficiently.

Another concern is that genetic tweaking may make it easier for the virus to bypass antibodies, the protective proteins that the body makes in response to infection from vaccines or early mutants.

But experts say vaccines and boosters are still the best defense against severe COVID-19.In the fall, the United States may see Updated prescription Of the vaccine under development targeting the more recent Omicron strain

Some may say, “Well, vaccination and boosting immunization did not prevent people from getting infected.” And yes, that’s true, “he said. “But what we have seen is that the proportion of people who will eventually be hospitalized and die has dropped significantly. As more people are vaccinated, boosted, or naturally infected, the world The background level of immunity is starting to rise. “

It can take several weeks to figure out if the latest Omicron variants can affect the pandemic orbit. Meanwhile, Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies the virus at the Christian Medical College in India in Vellore, emphasized the growing concern about this variant and the need for more sustainable efforts to track and track the virus. Said that. How terrible. “It’s important that surveillance is not a start-stop strategy,” she said.

According to Luo, BA.2.75 is a reminder that the coronavirus is continuously evolving and spreading.

“We want to go back to our pre-pandemic life, but we still need to be careful,” she said. “We need to accept that we are living at a higher level of risk than before.”


Gosal reported from New Delhi. Ungar was reported by Louisville, Kentucky.

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