Omicron BA.2.12.1 mutant detected in Delhi, may be driving new surge

A new SARS CoV 2 mutant, BA. 2.12.1, related to the Omicron subvariant BA.2 but with other distinct changes, may be driving the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi and surrounding districts, top sources in INSACOG, India’s coronavirus genomic surveillance project, told Moneycontrol.
When contacted for an official version, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the agency under Union Health Ministry which is leading the INSACOG project, confirmed the detection of the variant in Delhi but did not elaborate more on this.
Sources, however, said that the BA.2.12.1 variant has been detected in several samples from the National capital that underwent whole genome sequencing over the last few days.
BA.2.12.1, along with BA.2.12, the other subvariant of Omicron BA.2, was recently identified by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in New York and a few other parts of the US and is said to be behind the rise in cases.
Scientists associated with INSACOG said that this new subvariant appears even more contagious than BA.2, which was a highly transmissible Omicron subvariant and had dominated India in January before COVID-19 cases started plummeting.
“Our preliminary analysis has confirmed BA.2.12.1 in samples collected from COVID-19 patients in Delhi,” said a senior official at the NCDC.
He added that like BA.2, the new mutant too, appeared capable of causing reinfection in people who had been infected by the SARS CoV virus in the past.
Another scientist attached with the COVID-19 surveillance programme said that though reports from New York suggest that BA.2.12. 1 is even more contagious than the BA.2 subvariant, this is yet to be established independently in India.
Scientists are also yet to ascertain the epidemiological implications of the new subvariant though Omicron BA.2 had largely caused mild disease in the majority, mainly owing to hybrid immunity arising from vaccination and prior infection.
But some researchers have also suggested that the mutated virus, BA.2, like the other Omicron subvariant BA.1, was capable of causing only upper respiratory illness in the majority of the people and did not affect the lungs.
The new subvariant BA.2.12.1 which has now been identified in India too, is yet to be declared either as a variant of interest (VoI) or a variant of concern (VoC) by the World Health Organization (WHO). Money Control