COVID-19 News: Watch Out! It Might Not Even Be XBB.1.9.1 Or the New XBB.1.16 Sublineage Driving The New Onslaught In India But Something Not Identified Yet!
: India has reported in the last 3 weeks a rise in various respiratory infections along with an increase in hospitalizations and also ICU admissions.
While physicians and hospitals across India are also reporting an increase in mortality rates…state and federal health and government authorities have not come up with any public statements nor have has there been any proper collation and public releases of such official data. Instead, various health officials have blamed the rise in respiratory cases on the emergence of a H3N2 outbreak and in some cases a rise in RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) or adenovirus or metapneumovirus and also H1N1 infections.
Latest emerging data shows that COVID-19 cases are also rising in India although it should be noted that as part of the India’s government new policies, there is literally very little or no COVID-19 screening or tests being conducted and only in cases where patients are admitted to hospitals due to severe symptoms are test carried out and even then, COVID-19 test are often conducted as a last option. Hence even so called reported COVID-19 infections in India are not the least reliable in terms of reflecting on the true state of the COVID-19 incidence at the moment.
International researchers, virologist and ‘variant hunters’ have attributed the rise of COVID-19 infections in India to the SARS-CoV-2 XBB.1.5, XBB.2.3, XBB.1.9.1 and the new XBB.1.16 sub-lineages.
The XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.91. sub-lineages have been covered in past COVID-19 News
New XBB.1.16 Sub-lineage
The XBB.1.16 sub-lineage
is however a new SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineage that just only emerged and is actually a XBB.1 Sub-lineage with the mutations: S:E180V, S:K478R, S:S486P, ORF9b:I5T, ORF9b:N55S, ORF1a:L3829F, ORF1b:D1746Y
The two ORF9b mutations ie ORF9b:I5T and ORF9b:N55S are of a concern as ORF9b has been implicated in immune evasion through IFN suppression.
-ORF9b has been implicated in immune evasion, primarily IFN suppression
However, we at Thailand Medical news are more concerned that in the last 60 days, it has been observed that India has been conducting very little genomic sequencings and the number of sequences that have been uploaded in the GISAID platforms by India is extremely low.
We speculate that something else is brewing in India and there is a very high possibly that newer SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineages have emerged in India that have yet to be identified.
More concerningly, with the way that the current onslaught of various respiratory infections are occurring in India and the way that it is being managed coupled with the fact that many locals are simply assuming all these respiratory infections are simply mild and are not taking heed of safety precautions, we can expect the emergence of reassortant strains in India very soon.
In coming weeks, we will truly see the dire state that India’s public healthcare infrastructure will be in!
Countries should also beef up health screenings at all airports and pay very close attention to travelers for India as well as from China that is also at present going through a new onslaught driven by also yet to be identified pathogenic agents… be it new SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineages, new flu strains or something else!
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