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Don’t panic, unlike foreign countries, no extraordinary strain of coronavirus in India yet: INSACOG

While some countries around the world have started to witness the return of Covid-19, India has so far not noticed any “amazing” strains of coronavirus, microbiologist Dr Samitra Das told News18.com.

Das, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), is a member of INSACOG – a nationwide consortium of 52 institutions involved in sequencing the coronavirus genome.

In an interview with News18.com about concerns over the new outbreak of Covid-19 in some countries in Europe and Asia, Das said INSACOG is closely monitoring the global and local situation.

“We need to have more discussion and data on the table to verify the status of global reports that suggest a sporadic increase in cases. We are closely monitoring the local and international situation to spot any new trends.

He clarified that the “BA.2.2” is an unofficial lineage designation of Omicron, which is not yet detected in India.

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According to media reports, there are more mutated versions of Omicron’s BA.2 subline and they are informally dubbed BA.2.2, which is believed to be found in Hong Kong and parts of China.

“The BA.2.2 lineage has not been officially designated, its existence in India and its characteristics are also to be confirmed,” Das told News18.com.

Regarding BA.2 and BA.3, he said, these two variants have been on the horizon for a long time. “Therefore, there does not appear to be a direct relationship between the surge in cases and these sublineages,” he said, allaying fears of new surges due to these variants.

INSACOG is responsible for monitoring the presence of variant strains of SARS coronavirus in India and continues to find various “unfit” strains of the virus in the normal course.

However, Das explained that the consortium does not sound the alarm unless it finds an interesting or concerning variant.

“It is the natural progression of a virus to mutate, thus finding mutated strains in common, but they do not all need to be announced, unless there is an upward trend in the frequency of a particular mutation is observed.”

Reason: This will cause unnecessary panic.

“We have done genome sequencing and so far there is no extraordinary trend that needs to ring the alarm bells.”

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