Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in India: Symptoms, severity

Updated on May 23, 2022 12:08 AM IST

Both the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron have been associated with the fifth Covid-19 wave in South Africa and recently the US and Europe have also reported.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week designated the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as variants of concern (VOC).(HT FILE PHOTO)
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week designated the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as variants of concern (VOC).(HT FILE PHOTO)
By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) on Sunday confirmed the detection of Omicron's subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the coronavirus in the country – the first one in Tamil Nadu and the other in Telangana. 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week designated the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as variants of concern (VOC) and said they could fuel increases in infections, with a 12 per cent to 13 per cent growth advantage over the Omicron’s BA.2 sub-lineage.

Both are subvariants of the fast-spreading Omicron variant that had led to a massive spread of the virus in the country earlier this year. New Omicron sublineages, discovered by South African scientists this month, are likely able to evade vaccines and natural immunity from prior infections, the head of gene sequencing units that produced a study on the strains said.

The symptoms of Omicron sublineages:

> Both the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron have been associated with the fifth Covid-19 wave in South Africa and recently the US and Europe have also reported.

> Tulio de Oliveira, the head of the institutes at the universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages appear to be more infectious than the earlier BA.2 lineage, which itself was more infectious than the original Omicron variant, Bloomberg reported. 

> Because Omicron has spread swiftly, and has had many opportunities to mutate, it has also acquired specific mutations of its own. These have given rise to several sub-lineages, or sub-variants.

> The first two were labelled BA.1 and BA.2. The current list now also includes BA.1.1, BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5.

> There is evidence these Omicron subvariants – specifically BA.4 and BA.5 – are particularly effective at reinfecting people with previous infections from BA.1 or other lineages. There is also concern these subvariants may infect people who have been vaccinated.

Where are the variants?

> BA.4 and BA.5 have been identified in several countries in addition to South Africa and now India. Reports suggest BA.4 is present in Austria, the UK, the US, Denmark, Belgium, Israel, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, and Botswana. 

> BA.5 has been identified in Portugal, Germany, the UK, the US, Denmark, France, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Pakistan, Spain, and Switzerland.

(With inputs from agencies)

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