XBB.1.16 Variant Sweeps Through India: Are We Heading Towards A 5th COVID Wave?

Is India heading towards a new wave of COVID-19? In the last couple of days, India has reported a sudden surge in its daily infection rate. According to the latest report by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the country has logged 1,590 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of cases reported in a single day in the last 146 days. With the new number of infections, the country’s active caseload now stands at 8,601. India’s daily positivity rate has also increased to 1.33 per cent, while the weekly positivity rate stands at 1.23 per cent. Why India is witnessing a fresh surge? Which variant is behind the spike? As per the data provided by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), the highest number of cases in the current surge is being driven by the newly detected XBB1.16 variant. The highest number of cases of this variant have been found in Maharashtra at 105, followed by Telangana at 93, Karnataka at 57, and Gujarat at 54 as per the data.

Will this spike in daily numbers give rise to a new COVID wave in India? Speaking to the media, former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said, “New variants will keep coming as the virus keeps on mutating over time and the XBB 1.16 is sort of a new kid on the block.”

Fresh COVID Surge In India: Is This A Sign of 5th COVID Wave?

Although the XBB.1.16 variant is the most contagious strain of the virus that is currently circulating globally, experts have stated that there is no need to panic and fear about a possible 5th wave. “People in India have gained immense immunity against the COVID-19 infection with the outbreaks of the various deadlier variants in the last three years. Therefore, it is safe to say that the emerging variants are unlikely to cause waves because most of the population has some immunity,” an expert told the media.

What do we know about this new variant of Omicron? Earlier this week, India confirmed over 349 new cases of the XBB.1.16 variant. According to the reports, the XBB.1.16 variant has been reported in samples from five states. It is one of the many variants from the group of the XBB strain which is a recombinant of two Omicron sub-variants.

Variants are formed when there is a mutation in the spike protein. These mutations not only help in developing a new strain but also provides the new virus with additional features. The XBB.1.16 variant also comes with some abilities which are more advanced in nature, compared to its parent Omicron variant. One of the many features of the XBB.1.16 variant is having the ability to evade the immune system of the human body. This is why even fully vaccinated people have been asked to remain cautioned amid the fresh surge. How to stay protected? In its latest safety protocols, the Health Ministry stated that COVID-like respiratory diseases can be easily prevented by following simple public health measures like avoiding overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings, using a handkerchief/ tissue while sneezing or coughing, wearing a mask in crowded and closed settings, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding spitting in public places etc.

What do you think?

Written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Improving Multiple Myeloma Diagnosis with Advanced Treatments

Aap Ki Adalat: Ravi Kishan breaks silence on his relationship with Nagma