More than half of the Covid-19 samples analyzed in the past seven days by one of Delhi’s main hospitals performing genome analysis are from Omicron, according to data seen by HT, suggesting that the increase in cases in the city is driven by the new variant of concern (VOC).
Between December 21 and December 28, the Institute for Liver and Bile duct Sciences (ILBS) analyzed 125 samples, including 67 of the Omicron variant. A person familiar with the case said the samples came from labs located in different parts of the city, suggesting the virus could be transmitted to the community.
“These positive samples were taken as part of sentinel surveillance, as the Delhi government has now decided to sequence all samples that test positive for Covid-19. We suspected it was Omicron even before the full genome sequencing results were released, as the doubling time was around 3 days and Delta was not spreading as quickly, ”said one. person familiar with the development, asking not to be named.
This person said that based on the experience of other countries where VOC has spread, cases will increase, possibly peaking towards the end of January, before the wave suddenly recedes. “It looks like it will subside shortly thereafter, and people shouldn’t be panicking. We are a Delta infected community with 100% coverage of the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine; therefore, the disease is likely to be less severe, ”said this person.
“That said, people must not let their guard down and strictly adhere to appropriate Covid behavior, such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene, and avoiding crowded spaces, etc. The person added.
Documents seen by HT included sequencing results from the National Center for Disease Control and Lok Nayak Hospital. It was not immediately clear what proportion of them were community samples, as they also sequence samples from international travelers who test positive.
At NCDC, a total of 263 samples were analyzed of which Omicron was found in 101, Delta variant in 27 samples, while the rest were unclassified. At Lok Nayak Hospital, out of a total of 80 samples analyzed, 12 were from Omicron while 62 were from the Delta variant.
Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, said the hospital lab has the capacity to analyze 100 samples per day. “The laboratory’s capacity has recently been increased. Previously, the lab was only able to analyze around 40 samples per day, ”Kumar said.
Dr Kumar said that since December 2, a total of 70 Omicron patients have been admitted to Lok Nayak hospital, of which 50 have been discharged from the hospital after treatment and 20 are currently admitted. “All had a history of international travel or were common contacts of those who arrived from overseas, with the exception of two people who apparently got infected at some wedding parties,” Dr Kumar said.
Besides Lok Nayak, Delhi has four private hospitals that have set up Omicron isolation units. On December 18, Delhi government asked Saket Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital; Batra Hospital and Research Center, Tughlakabad Institutional Zone; Fortis Super Specialty Hospital, Vasant Kunj; and Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital for the institutional isolation facility for Omicron patients.
Experts said it was clear the variant was in circulation within the community due to escalating numbers.
“He’s already there; we sequenced fewer samples of the genome, if we did more the number would increase further. The way the number of cases is increasing, it couldn’t be the delta variant. However, the preventive measures remain the same – masking, vaccination, following other behaviors appropriate to Covid, ”said Dr GC Khilnani, former head of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.