Tuesday, March 28, 2023
HomeHyderabadSurge of Covid infections in Telangana likely caused by XBB 1.16 variant

Surge of Covid infections in Telangana likely caused by XBB 1.16 variant

A rapidly spreading new recombinant variant XBB1.16 of SARS-CoV-2, thought to have originated in Maharashtra and then been reported elsewhere, is now responsible for a new surge of Covid infections in Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, and other states.

For the past few days, the Covid positivity rate in several states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat, has increased, coinciding with the rise of the seasonal H3N2 influenza. The Maharashtra health department reported 155 positive infections and two related fatalities on Tuesday, while Telangana reported 52 positive infections on Tuesday and 54 on Wednesday.

The genomic data of new SARS-CoV-2 variants in the last week of February and the first week of March, which is collected by GISAID, the international body that tracks new SARS-CoV-2 variants worldwide, has given clear indications of the dominance of XBB 1.16 in several Indian States.

According to available data from biologists and geneticists who are actively tracking and identifying new variants, the percentage of growth of XBB 1.16 in India during January and February was nearly 2%, and by March, the rate had increased to nearly 40%. While little is known about the virulence of XBB 1.16, the new variant is capable of evading immunity, which is a major reason for its rapid spread.

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The new recombinant variant is thought to have first come to light when Indian travellers tested positive for it in Singapore. Aside from India, the XBB1.16 variant is actively in circulation in the United States, Singapore and Brunei.

Until recently, the XBB 1.5 has been the dominant lineage of SARS-CoV2 in the country. Recombinant variants of SARS-CoV-2 like XBB and XBB1 and emerging new variants like XBB 1.16 are generated when two or more viruses together infect a cell at the same time.

While the probability of co-infection is quite rare, recombination of Omicron sub-lineages has occurred in India, leading to recombinant variants. The XBB is a recombinant lineage of two Omicron sub-lineages including BA 2.75 and BJ 1. Based on GSAID data, the XBB 1.16 and XBB 1.5 are the direct descendants of XBB and XBB 1.







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