The tested samples collected from government and private hospitals in Hyderabad also confirm the presence of variants like BA.1, BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5. All of these, currently circulating within the state, are sub-variants of Omicron and are understood to be mild to moderate in nature.
Gandhi Hospital, which is the appointed zonal centre for genome testing in Telangana, said that the XBB variant entered the state about three months ago.
“Prior to that, XBB was not found in any genome sequencing results. But this month, of the 94 samples tested, 48 were found to have the XBB variant. About 60% of samples seen in our region is of XBB variant, which has become the dominant variant now,” said Dr M Raja Rao, superintendent of the hospital.
He said that hospital admissions are still being recorded among patients with all kinds of existing variants – but mostly on account of an existing comorbidity.
“Admissions have never really stopped even if the severity of the infection slowed down. Patients who have to be admitted are essentially comorbid or have a compromised immunity. Of the six new cases on Thursday, only one had symptoms of Covid-19 while the rest were detected positive during pre-surgical screening or when after they were admitted for another ailment,” added the doctor.
Overall, there have been about 10 variants and subvariants of Covid-19 detected in Telangana since the beginning of the pandemic, including alpha and delta, that wreaked havoc.
“The number of samples coming in, however, has dropped since April. The XBB variant that we are seeing frequently is a mix of two variants (recombinant of BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75). It is less severe as per our experience, although literature suggests otherwise,” said Dr Rajeshwar Rao, head of genome sequencing.