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New Omicron Subvariant BA.2.75 Found In India May Escape Immunity, Could Be A Cause Of Concern

New Omicron Subvariant BA.2.75 Found In India May Escape Immunity, Could Be A Cause Of Concern

Omicron subvariant called BA.2.75 can be alarming, express leading health experts. Here's everything you need to know about it so far.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : July 4, 2022 11:19 AM IST

Scientists across the world have noticed the presence of a new sub-lineage of Omicron. The appearance of a novel coronavirus variety in India, the BA.2.75, which is reportedly appearing more frequently in samples, might be alarming finds Israeli scientists. So far, cases of the new sub-variant of Omicron BA.2.75 has been found in about 10 states in India, which may be "alarming" in nature. The Indian Health Ministry has not, however, formally acknowledged the discovery of the sub-variant in the nation.

As per reports, 85 cases of the new variant have been found in 8 countries, with 69 cases in India. 27 cases of BA.2.75 have been found in Maharashtra, 13 in West Bengal, 10 in Karnataka, 6 in Haryana, 5 in Madhya Pradesh, 2 in Telangana, and 1 in Jammu, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

What We Know About BA.2.75?

BA.2.75 is a subvariant of Omicron among the many mutations of the variant emerging regularly. The Indian government and the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a genomic surveillance organisation working under the health ministry, have not released any formal statements regarding the variation. Independent researchers from different regions of the world have raised the alarm about BA.2.75 on numerous online forums, citing the accumulation of several mutations on the variant's spike protein as a cause for concern.

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According to a tweet posted by Bloom Lab at the Fred Hutch research institute in the US, BA.2.75 "is worth tracking, as it has appreciable antigenic change relative to its parent BA.2." There are two key mutations, namely G446S and R493Q.

"G446S is at one of most potent sites of escape from antibodies elicited by current vaccines that still neutralise BA.2. So, for immunity from vaccines or early infections, adding G446S to BA.2 will decrease neutralization. However, G446S will have less effect on antibodies of people with prior BA.1 breakthrough infection. Therefore, BA.2.75's antigenic advantage relative to BA.2 will be most pronounced in people who have not had BA.1 exposure," the lab was quoted as saying by IANS.

BA.2.75 And 2 More Subvariants May Be Behind Ongoing COVID Surge

Apart from the BA.2.75, the sublineage that has scientists on its toes, two new and highly transmissible "offspring" of Omicron BA.2 subvariant have been found in India.

Some studies claim that BA.2.74, BA.2.75 and BA.2.76 are "fitter" and more contagious than Omicron's BA.5. According to sources, 298 cases of BA.2.76, 216 cases of BA.2.74, and 46 cases of BA.2.75 have been found in India over the past 10 days. And out of the three, scientists have singled out BA.2.75 for further scrutiny due to a few changes that enable it to avoid antibodies and target human cells more effectively. Additionally, BA.2.75 is becoming more widespread in the US, Canada, and Japan. Notably, this subvariant was discovered and given a name by the international community as a result of research conducted on BA.2 by Indian scientists from Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

Dr Shay Fleishon, Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer explained that it is "too soon to tell" to say that BA.2.75 subvariant will be the next dominant variant or not. He added that second-generation variants based on the Omicron sub-lineages BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, and BA.5 have been increasingly popular recently.

This was predicated on Omicron lineages that had mutations in the S1 region of the spike protein, notably in the region that the virus utilises to attach to and enter cells. However, the surge in these sub-variants has been "at a level not seen in second-generation variants from other variants of concerns," according to the study.

According to Imperial College London researcher Thomas Peacock, the sub-variant is something to "keep a close eye" on.

(With inputs from agencies)

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