Omicron bq.1 subvariant: Covid-19: India detects first Omicron subvariant BQ.1 in Pune

India has detected another Omicron subvariant, BQ.1, in Pune days after detecting the BF.7 subvariant in Gujarat.

Scientists confirmed the BQ.1 detection in the Pune sample during the latest genome sequencing run in October, reported The Times of India.

The report quoted a senior scientist involved in the country’s genome surveillance network saying, “this is the first reported case of BQ.1 in India”.

“These are all next-generation strains or offspring of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Since Omicron’s emergence in January this year, we have not seen a completely new variant of the virus. However, these subvariants, called sublineages, also have the potential to cause surges, so they should not be ignored. That said, the BA.2.75 sublineage of Omicron’s BA.2 variant continues to dominate the scene in India,” said a scientist from the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Experts suggested further improving the sewage surveillance systems for better monitoring. Dr. Sanjay Pujari, a member of India’s national Covid task force, said “close genomic surveillance to assess the evolution of new Omicron sublineages need to be pursued, both from patient samples (outpatients and inpatients) and wastewater”.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government warned of a COVID-19 spike citing evasive XBB, winter, and festive season. The state reported 17.7 per cent rise in coronavirus cases in Maharashtra this week when compared to last week.

A health official department bulletin said the XBB variant reported in the state had a “growth advantage over BA.2.75 and immune evasive property”.

The BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 variants have also been detected in the state, a first for the country, it added.

It said new COVID-19 cases rose by 17.17 per cent in the October 10-16 period when compared to last week between October 3 and 9, with the rise being noticed particularly in densely-populated Thane, Raigad and Mumbai.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate, the new variant BQ.1 makes up one in 10 cases in the United States.

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