Omicron sub-variant ‘BA.2’ found In 57 countries: WHO
A sub-variant of the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus strain has been detected in 57 countries, the WHO said on Tuesday. Some studies have indicate that the new variant could be even more infectious than the original version.
The fast-spreading and heavily mutated Omicron variant has become the dominant variant worldwide very quickly after it was first detected in southern Africa 10 weeks ago.
The World Health Organization said in its weekly epidemiological update that the variant, which accounts for over 93 percent of all coronavirus specimens detected in the past month, has several sub-lineages such as BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3.
It also added that the BA.1 and BA.1.1, which were the first versions of the Omicron variant, still account for over 96 percent of all the Omicron sequences uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative.
Now, the covid cases involving BA.2 has seen a rise in the recent days and it counts several different mutations from the original including on the spike protein that dots the virus’s surface and is key to entering human cells.
WHO said that BA.2- designated sequences have been submitted to GISAID from 57 countries to date.
It also added that in some countries, the sub-variant now accounted for over half of all Omicron sequences gathered.
The UN health agency has called for studies into its characteristics, including its transmissibility, how good it is at dodging immune protections and its virulence as there is not much differences between the sub-variants.
According to reports, many recent studies have indicated that the BA.2 is more infectious than the original Omicron variant of COVId-19.
Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the WHO’s top experts on Covid, told reporters on Tuesday that information about the sub-variant was very limited, but that some initial data has indicated the BA.2 had seen a slight increase in growth rate over BA.1.
Just like the Omicron variant, which is known to cause less severe disease than previous coronavirus variants like Delta, there is no indication that there is a change in severity in the BA.2 sub-variant so far, said Van Kerkhove.
She stressed though that regardless of the strain, Covid remained a dangerous disease as it is continuing to circulate and its continuing to evolve. So, people should strive to avoid catching it.
“We need people to be aware that this virus is continuing to circulate and its continuing to evolve,” she said and added that “It’s really important that we take measures to reduce our exposure to this virus, whichever variant is circulating.”