In the last couple of days, India has witnessed a sharp rise in its daily COVID-19 infection rates. As per reports, a new variant XBB.1.16 is triggering the recent surge in the country. This new variant is one of the many XBB variants that are currently in circulation globally. The variant comes with the restructured ability to evade the immune system of the body, thus making even fully vaccinated ones vulnerable.
Is this a sign of another COVID wave in India? Speaking to the media, the former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria has said that there is no need to panic at the moment. However, he also urged people to follow the safety protocols. "New variants will keep coming as the virus keeps on mutating over time and the XBB 1.16 is sort of a new kid on the block," Guleria said.
The country, which was reporting a major drop in daily infection numbers, has suddenly started reporting a spike in fresh cases. The fresh surge in the numbers is raising the eyebrows of healthcare workers as they fear a new wave of infection in the upcoming weeks. So what is the future of COVID? Let's understand from the experts and the data.
As the country faces a sudden surge in its daily COVID cases, the health department of India has urged people to remain vigilant. Several states have re-implemented COVID-safety protocols in order to contain the spread of the virus. According to the latest report, 349 cases of newly detected XBB1.16 variant have been confirmed in India in the last 24 hours. India's Sars-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) data has revealed that the highest number of XBB1.16 variant cases has been found in Maharashtra with 105 cases, followed by Telangana with 93 cases, Karnataka with 61 cases and Gujarat with 54 cases. What is this new variant? How does it differ from the currently present variants in the environment? Will India see a new wave of virus infection in the upcoming days? Let's take a quick look at what risk XBB.1.16 variant brings to us, and how one can spot the infection.
XBB.1.16: The Most Contagious Variant
India faced the deadly and most ferocious second wave of COVID-19 in early 2021. The wave was dominated by the highly lethal Delta variant of COVID-19. However, the XBB.1.16 variant is also known to be one of the most contagious variants of the coronavirus which is spreading fast across the states in India. The first case of the XBB.1.16 Variant was found in January this year when two samples tested positive. In February, 140 samples of the XBB 1.16 variant were reported. In March, 207 XBB 1.16 variant samples have been found till now, the data revealed.
What Is XBB.1.16 Variant?
To understand the basic concept of variants, one needs to get the fact that variants are the results of continuous mutations in the spike protein of the COVID virus. The variants are mutating and forming new sub-variants -- one of the highest mutated versions of the COVID virus in the Omicron variant. It comes with over 42 mutations in its spike protein, making it capable of evading the immune system of the human body. However, this is not it. The XBB.1.16 is a mutant strain of SARS CoV 2, mainly of Omicron, and has the ability to escape the immunity smartly system of the body (both vaccine and natural immunity) smartly.
You may like to read
This new variant is being seen as a threat as it is highly contagious and the speed at which it is spreading. XBB.1.16 is a recombinant lineage of the virus and is a descendent of the XBB lineage of COVID-19.
Symptoms of XBB.1.16 Variant
The signs and symptoms of COVID have remained the same, however, a few additional health issues were reported every time a new variant entered the picture. As we are talking about the XBB.1.16 -- the most contagious variant at the moment, here is a list of symptoms that an infected individual may experience:
Fever accompanied by chills
Nose congestion/Blocked nose
Muscle aches and muscle cramps
At present, XBB.1.16 variant does not seem to be causing serious health issues. Symptoms generally include upper respiratory issues that are listed above, along with fever and myalgia or muscle pain which lasts for three to four days.