A new sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the Covid-19 has now been detected in India, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing on Wednesday. The variant, BA.2.75, was first reported in India and is now present in at least 10 more counties. The global health body assured that it is closely monitoring the strain. It is yet to be determined if the new variant is more clinically severe than its predecessors.
Addressing the global rise in fresh Covid-19 infections, Tedros said, "Globally reported cases have increased nearly 30 per cent over the past two weeks. Four out of six of the WHO subregions saw cases increase in the last week."
He further informed that this surge in the global Covid tally is being caused by the sub-variants of the Omicron strain. While the BA.4 and BA.5 variants are driving waves in Europe and the United States, "in countries like India a new sub-lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected, which we are following," he said. WHO said that is still "too early to know" if this sub-variant has properties of additional immune evasion or indeed of being more clinically severe.
What's behind the global surge
WHO chief cited 'dramatic reductions' in testing in several countries, delay in treatment to prevent serious illness and disparity in Covid-19 treatment, and lack of enthusiasm for booster dose as key reasons for the current global surge. "Vaccine protection, while still very effective in preventing serious disease and death, does vail," he said, underscoring the importance of booster dose to prevent the spread of the disease.
India on Thursday reported over 18,000 new Covid cases. 35 new Covid-linked fatalities were also reported in the last 24 hours. India has already logged over 64,300 new Covid infections this week.
Elsewhere in Europe, Italy reported over 1.35 lakh cases in just one day on 5 July. France logged more than 2 lakh fresh infections in the last 24 hours, the local media reported yesterday. The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus is upward across the UK as well.
In the US, the fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages of Omicron are estimated to make up a combined 70.1% of the coronavirus variants in the United States as of July 2, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.