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According to INSACOG data, a total of 76 samples of the XBB.1.16 variant of COVID-19 have been discovered, which may be responsible for the recent increase in cases in the country.

The variant has been identified in various states, with Karnataka (30), Maharashtra (29), Puducherry (7), Telangana (5), Gujarat (2), Himachal Pradesh (1), and Odisha (1) showing cases, as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) data.

The XBB 1.16 variant was first detected in January with two positive samples, followed by 59 samples in February. As of March, 15 samples of the XBB 1.16 variant have been found, as reported by INSACOG.

Some experts have linked the recent rise in Covid cases to this variant. Dr. Randeep Guleria, former AIIMS director and leader of the national Covid task force, stated that the increase in Covid cases appears to be driven by the XBB 1.16 variant, while the rise in influenza cases is due to H3N2.

Former convenor of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Vipin M Vashishtha, noted that the XBB.1.16 variant has been detected in at least 12 countries, with the highest number of cases in India, followed by the US, Brunei, Singapore, and the UK. He also mentioned a 281% increase in cases and a 17% increase in deaths in India over the past 14 days.

India’s single-day tally of cases crossed 800 after 126 days on Saturday, while the number of active cases climbed to 5,389. It is important to pay close attention to the situation in India, as the XBB.1.16 variant could pose a serious threat if it is able to overcome the population immunity that has resisted previous variants.

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