Omicron XBB Variant: New Omicron subvariant may lead to another Covid wave: WHO chief scientist | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The threat of Covid pandemic may be waning every day but the WHO on Thursday said that another wave may be on the horizon.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), warned that some countries may see “another wave of infections” triggered by the XBB subvariant of Omicron.
The strain has already been reported in several states but the cases are said to be mild.
Talking to reporters, Swaminathan clarified that as of now, there was no data from any country to suggest that these new variants are clinically more severe.
“There are over 300 subvariants of Omicron. I think the one that is concerning right now is XBB, which is a recombinant virus. We had seen some recombinant viruses earlier. It is very immune-evasive, which means it can overcome the antibodies. So slightly that we may see another wave of infections in some countries because of XBB,” she said.
Swaminathan said they are also tracking derivatives of BA.5 and BA.1, which are also more transmissible and immune-evasive.
As the virus evolves, it is going to evolve more and more transmissible, she said.
“As of now, there is no data from any country to suggest these new subvariants are more clinically severe,” she clarified.
Suggesting the measures that need to be taken, Dr Swaminathan said monitoring and tracking are the key steps.
“We need to continue to monitor and track. We have seen that testing has gone down across countries, the genomic surveillance has also gone down over the last few months. We need to maintain at least a strategic sampling of genomic surveillance so that we can keep tracking the variants as we have been doing and studying,” she said.
Covid cases in India have been on a consistent decline with the country reporting 2,119 new infections on Friday.
With the pandemic no longer a threat due to mass vaccination and weaker variants, the demand for booster shots has already come down.
Serum Institute of India‘s owner and CEO Adar Poonawalla on Thursday said the company stopped production of the Covishield vaccine in December last year and some 100 million doses it had in stock at the time were dumped upon expiry.
“Since December 2021, we have stopped production of Covishield. The booster vaccines have no demand as people now seem fed up with Covid. Honestly, I’m also fed up. We all are,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)

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