Omicron BA.2: What we know about the Covid sub-variant

The highly transmissible Omicron variant now accounts for half of the world's infections.

More countries, particularly in Asia and Europe, are reporting an increase in cases driven by BA.2.

 

 

Is this covid variant, BA.2 more dangerous?

There is no data to suggest that BA.2 leads to more severe disease than previous Omicron sub-variants.

 

"Looking at other countries where BA.2 is now overtaking, we're not seeing any higher bumps in hospitalization than expected," Dr. Liakou says.

Dr. Liakou, Clinical Medicine Specialist and Kalika Med Care Chief Medical Officer, said that BA.1 and BA.2 "can be considered as two epidemiologically largely equivalent sub-lineages of Omicron".

As with previous variants, experts believe vaccines will continue to be highly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Dr Liakou said: "So far, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether BA.2 causes more severe illness than Omicron BA.1.

 

"We must remain vigilant and take up vaccinations. We should all continue to test regularly with LFDs [lateral flow devices] – Antigen Test and take a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test if symptoms develop."

 

Now, Danish scientists believe that the BA.2 subvariant is 1½ times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, and is already overtaking it. The BA.2 variant is now responsible for over half of the new cases in Germany and makes up around 11% of cases in the U.S.

“I suspect the rising number of cases is related to several factors including BA.2, the relaxation of restrictions and more social mixing, less mask wearing and some waning of immunity from both previous infections and vaccination, especially in those who received boosters early on,” Dr Liakou said.

 

So, what now? 

Covid cases have increased dramatically in the U.K. in recent weeks, and Germany continues to mark record high daily infections with more than 250,000 new cases a day.

The new subvariant would be the latest in a long line to emerge since the pandemic began in China in late 2019. The omicron variant — the most transmissible strain so far — overtook the delta variant, which itself supplanted the alpha variant — and even this was not the original strain of the virus.

“I suspect the rising number of cases is related to several factors including BA.2, the relaxation of restrictions and more social mixing, less mask wearing and some waning of immunity from both previous infections and vaccination, especially in those who received boosters early on,” Dr Liakou said.

 

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