No need to Panic, flu-like symptoms, say the experts.


There is no need to fear, but India must keep an eye on the disease’s severity and clinical signs as a result of the XBB. Experts advised monitoring the 1.16 variant attentively as the nation starts to record a new uptick in Covid-19 infections.

The nation reported more than 800 coronavirus cases in 24 hours on March 18, the biggest 24-hour spike in the previous four months.

The XBB.1.16 variant of Covid-19 has been found in 76 samples across the nation, according to the most recent information from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG). With cases reported in Karnataka (30), Maharashtra (29), Puducherry (7), Delhi (5), Telangana (2), Gujarat (1), Himachal Pradesh (1), and Odisha (1), this variety is thought to be the cause of the recent spike in incidence (1).

The new strain has been identified in 12 nations and is quickly spreading to Singapore, Brunei, the US, India, and the US.

There is a new variant displacing old ones but so far, there is not much increase in severe cases,” Dr. Anurag Agrawal, former director of CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) said.

Dr. Anurag Agrawal, previous head of the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), stated that a new variety was replacing an older one, but that the number of severe cases had not increased significantly.

The recent increase is “not at all unexpected,” according to Agrawal, who is currently Ashoka University’s dean of biosciences and health research. According to him, the increase in cases could be caused by a combination of novel variants and waning immunity.

In January, the XBB1.16 variant was discovered. But will this variety start a new pandemic wave? “No, if by the wave you mean several hospitalizations and healthcare stress. It is quite improbable”, Agrawal continued.

Although there might be a rise in infections, he said that the rise “will not be equal to earlier waves.”

According to Vipin M. Vashishtha, a consultant pediatrician at the Mangla Hospital and Research Centre in Bijnor and a former convenor of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, “XBB.1.16 has a 140% growth advantage over XBB.1.5, making it more aggressive.”

The variation features three more spike mutations, E180V, K478R, and S486P, which have been detected by a recent briefing, according to a tweet from Vashishtha. They failed to indicate that XBB.1.16 also carries mutations for ORF9b:I5T and ORF9b:N55S.

“India deserves to have all eyes on it! The entire globe must be extremely concerned if XBB.1.16 aka #Arcturus manages to get beyond the “sturdy” population immunity of Indians that successfully survived the onslaught of variants like BA.2.75, BA.5, BQs, and XBB.1.5, he continued. (Sic)

Dr. Vishal Rao, a different specialist and a member of the Karnataka genomic surveillance committee, said that there is now no need to press the “panic button” because Covid-19 will only cause “flu-like symptoms” for the time being.

But he added that there are two things that international experts should pay particular attention to in the coming days.

One is recombinant viruses (which form when two strains unite in a cell to form a new strain), and the other is Antibody Enhanced Disease (AED), which increases virulence and infectivity due to a lackluster immune system response.

Rao continued, “We discovered the existence of cases with recombinant variations such as XBB and XBB.1 in Bengaluru in September 2022. Rao is also the dean for the Centre of Academic Research at the Bengaluru-based HCG Cancer Hospital. Another developing variety, XBB1.16, is attempting to elude the immune system and undermine the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“When it acquires critical mass, it may be able to reach lungs or other organs, so we need to keep sequencing and clinically alert,” he continued.

Rao issued the following warning: “The immune system’s response to the new version may be waning, and even our antibody production may be declining. Via TMPRSS2, the virus reaches the lungs. While Omicron did not know how to access TMPRSS2, Delta had access to it. We can’t claim it won’t ever figure out how to infiltrate the lungs using TMPRSS2. This virus will naturally evolve, therefore we must keep a watchful eye on it in case it starts acting maliciously.

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