Pakistan’s first Omicron case confirmed through gene-sequencing: AKUH

The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) confirmed on Monday that the new coronavirus variant Omicron has been detected in a patient through gene-sequencing.

In a statement, the hospital said the patient was at home and was doing well. So far, no other patients at the hospital have been confirmed to have the Omicron variant, it added.

On Dec 8, the Sindh government had claimed that though the genomic study had to be done for confirmation, the way the virus was behaving in a female patient in Karachi seemed it was the Omicron. The matter was widely circulated in the media and reported as the first case of Omicron.

In a video message on the same day, Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho had said the 57-year-old woman was unvaccinated.

However, on Dec 9, the NIH issued a clarification stating that the sample was yet to be confirmed as Omicron through whole-genome sequencing, adding it would be obtained from the Sindh government.

It later said that the results of samples of three suspected cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 would be received on Monday (today).

University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Javed Akram, while speaking to Dawn, had said the virus should be called Omicron even if had a bit different variation.

“In the PCR test, it has been confirmed that there is a dropout of spike gene which is only observed in Omicron. However, a positive factor is that to date not a single death has been reported from Omicron, so people should not panic. Vaccines are effective against Omicron and even if people become infected there would be minor symptoms, especially among those vaccinated,” he said.

Replying to a question, Dr. Akram said Omicron had 50 variations and was reported in Africa where the vaccination rate was just six percent.

“People should get themselves vaccinated to create herd immunity, reducing the chances of variation and eradicate the virus. Delta is still the most virulent variant of Covid-19 and is infecting 95pc people across the globe, including Pakistan,” he said.