First case of new Delta-Omicron hybrid found in Thailand
The first case of a new hybrid Covid-19 variant has been found in Thailand, Department of Medical Sciences director-general Dr Supakit Sirilak said on Friday.
XAY.2, a Delta and Omicron mash-up, was discovered during a monitoring operation involving the department and a network of relevant agencies, he said.
The department has reported its discovery and submitted the virus’s sequencing information to GISAID, a global science initiative that has become the world’s largest repository for SARS-CoV-2 strain sequences since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supakit said that XAY.2 is a hybrid between Delta’s subvariant AY.45 and Omicron’s BA.4/5. A total of 344 cases have been reported globally.
In response to concerns of a potential outbreak of Covid-19 mutations in Thailand with an expected influx of Chinese tourists, he said that the currently dominant variants in China are BA.5.2 and BF.7, which are not newer or spread faster than the existing variants in Thailand.
“So, there should be no cause for concern,” the medical expert said.
He also said that the latest Omicron offshoot, XBB.1.5, which is spreading fast in the United States, has not been found in Thailand.
The dominant variant in Thailand is now Omicron’s BN.1.3, an offshoot of BA.2.75, which spreads as quickly as XBB.1.5, he said.
“The Department of Medical Sciences and our network are closely monitoring the mutation of Covid-19. Preventive measures like wearing a mask, sanitising one’s hands and getting booster shots are still necessary,” Supakit said.
He advised people who had got their previous Covid-19 vaccine shot more than four months ago to get a booster shot to reduce the risk of infection and severe illness in case of infection.