Hyderabad: With three cases of the 'Kraken' XBB.1.5 Covid variant detected in Telangana by genome sequencing, experts have allayed fears that the variant will not cause severe infections in Indians.
According to the Covid bulletin released by the state's health department on Wednesday, five new cases were reported in the state, three of which were in Hyderabad.
Experts said the Covid subvariant has seen a surge in the United States and is spreading faster than most other variants. It was first detected in the US on November 14, and as of the last week of December, it accounted for approximately 20 per cent of Covid cases in that country.
Dr Kiran Madhala, ICMR-certified researcher and HOD, critical care department, Nizamabad Government Hospital, believed that any variant has three key characteristics: transmissibility — how quickly it can spread; immune evasion — how well it can evade antibodies produced by previous infections or vaccines; and pathogenicity — how severe the infection will be.
According to Dr Madhala, the transmissibility of XBB.1.5 is about 1.6 times more than that of BA.2, which triggered the third wave in India. It also has one of the highest immune evasion rates of any Omicron variant. Its pathogenicity, which is normally inversely related to transmissibility, is, nevertheless, low.
Indians should not be concerned about this variant since, like the Omicron variants, it may cause rapid spread of infections despite having received vaccinations or being infected previously, but it will cause only mild or asymptomatic infections in the vast majority of people. This is because the majority of the Indian population has vaccination immunity and has been exposed to similar variants. Its parent XBB variety is also spreading in the country, he said....