Omicron variants now dominant in Bangladesh

Omicron accounts for 82% of Covid-19 cases, says a BSMMU study

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The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is currently the dominant one in the currently, leapfrogging the Delta variant. 

According to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Omicron accounts for 82% of Covid-19 cases, while Delta makes up 18%.

BSMMU VC Prof Md Sharfuddin Ahmed addresses a media call on Thursday, February 10, 2022 Bangla Tribune

The data were aggregated on the basis of the genome sequencing results of 937 individuals collected from admitted as well as outpatients, aged between nine months and 90 years, at BSMMU between January 9 and February 9. 

BSMMU VC Prof Md Sharfuddin Ahmed, the supervisor of the institution’s genome sequencing research project, revealed the data on Thursday.

Although the rate of transmission from the Delta variant to Omicron is much higher, the death rate is lower, he said.

“Omicron subvariants BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2 were found among the samples. BA.2 is the most contagious sub-variant according to the World Health Organization,” said Sharfuddin.

Most of the people testing Covid-19 positive now are aged from 30 to 59 years.

Also Read- ‘More infectious’ Omicron subvariant BA.2 detected in Chittagong

The research also revealed that there was a tendency for rapid transmission from Omicron patients due to mild symptoms.

The transmission rate of Omicron is much higher than that of the Delta variant. The Omicron variant has more mutations than the Delta variant of the genome, most of which have been in the spike protein of the virus. Most vaccines are based on this spike protein. Omicron infection remained a possibility even after conventional vaccination due to structural changes in spike proteins, said Dr Sharfuddin.

This is the result of a seven-and-a-half-month report of ongoing BSMMU research.

Last month BSMMU, after sequencing samples collected between December 8 and January 8, said 20% of the patients had been infected with the Omicron variant.

Dr Md Nazmul Islam, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) spokesperson and Line Director (Disease Control), told Dhaka Tribune that the new Omicron variant had been replacing the Delta variant since January. 

He said Omicron was found in most of the people admitted to the hospitals. The number of Omicron cases would increase in the coming months as well.

Dr Nazmul Islam said although the death rate from the variant was low, the transmission was fast. “People infect others before they understand as the symptoms are milder than previous ones.”

Virologist Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said: “We can curb the spread of the virus by wearing masks properly. The only way to reduce the infection rate is to follow the Covid-19 health guidelines.”

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