Omicron evolving, can’t lower guard: Experts

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: While the third wave is predominantly driven by the Omicron variant, hospital numbers are not yet telling us what a typical case looks like. A webinar organised by Neuberg Diagnostics, involving the country’s renowned virologists and infectious disease experts, tried to decode the variant’s clinical behaviour and how the 20-30 per cent cases reporting to hospitals may be non-Omicron, or could be sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, which is already evolving. 

Recovery within four days In a majority of cases, the clinical picture has shown that symptoms are mainly of high fever and severe throat pain. Dr V Ramasubramanian, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Apollo Hospitals, asks people to wait for three to four days and if fever persists or cough worsens, such patients need to be watchful. “We are seeing a lot of youngsters coming in with high fever and severe pain in the throat. ,” he said.

Sublineages of Omicron Dr Ramasubramanian explained that in 20 per cent or slightly higher number, samples are not showing the S-Gene deletion, so doctors should not dismiss all cases as Omicron. He gave the example of a 60-year-old woman, vaccinated twice with a history of Covid-19, coming down with Omicron and who is very sick. Though chances of viral pneumonia are low with Omicron, CT-scans tell us we cannot lower our guard, he said. Virologist Dr Ravi explained that Omicron is evolving and there are sublineages – BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3. “BA.2 is present in quite a few cities in India,” Dr Ravi said.He said the districts will probably start seeing a peak in the next two or three weeks.

Combination of Delta and OmicronWhile saying it is very difficult to predict whether there will be a new variant, Dr Jacob T John, renowned virologist from CMC Vellore, says, “A recent statement from the OIE-World Organisation said they cannot exclude the possibility that Omicron developed in rodents. This could mean it is an accident and not normal evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variant. If this holds good, we may see a combination of Delta and Omicron co-circulating in future.