Experts Warn of Another Coronavirus Wave Due to New Variants in Pakistan

Healthcare experts across the country fear that the recent spike in Coronavirus cases could result in a sixth wave if the public does not restart taking precautions against the viral infection.

They have said that the public should resume the practice of face mask-wearing and maintaining social distancing in crowded public places. Otherwise, the emergence of two new sub-variants of the Omicron strain could push the country into the sixth wave of viral disease.

The warning comes days after it was reported that two new sub-variants of Omicron — B.4 and B.5 — have been detected in the country. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad detected the new sub-variants through genomic sequencing of random samples.

Speaking in this regard to Dawn, Dr. Saeed Khan, Head of the Sindh Public Health Lab (SPHL) at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), said these two variants are rapidly spreading in the country and are responsible for almost all of the cases countrywide.

People getting infected with these new variants are experiencing a mild disease and recovering at home. However, unvaccinated, older adults and immunocompromised people are particularly vulnerable to the new strains.

Explaining the reasons behind the fast transmission of the new variants, Dr. Khan said that these strains are genetically different from the original Omicron strain, enabling them to transmit easily. Other reasons are a decrease in immunity of existing Coronavirus vaccines six months after the second dose, reluctance among the public to receive a booster dose, and lack of preventive measures by the masses.