Wednesday, November 30, 2022

WHO said Omicron’s sister variant detected in 57 countries

NewsWHO said Omicron's sister variant detected in 57 countries

A recent study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) had found that a sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus strain has now been detected in 57 countries.

The heavily mutated Omicron variant has quickly become the dominant variant worldwide just 10 weeks since it was first detected in southern Africa.

According to WHO, its weekly epidemiological update accounts for over 93% of all coronavirus specimens collected in the past month, counts several sub-lineages: BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3.

The BA.1 and BA.1.1 — the first versions identified — still account for over 96% of all the Omicron sequences uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative, it said.

However, there has been a clear spike in cases involving BA.2, which 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.

“BA.2 — designated sequences have been submitted to GISAID from 57 countries to date,” WHO said, adding that the sub-variant even accounted for over half of all Omicron sequences gathered in the country.

Source: NST

Meanwhile, little was known about the differences between the sub-variants. The UN health agency also called for studies into its characteristics, including its transmissibility, how good it is at dodging immune protections and its virulence.

Though several recent studies hinted that the BA.2 is more infectious than the original Omicron.

According to AFP, one of the WHO’s top experts on Covid, Maria Van Kerkhove told the reporters that they have very limited information about the sub-variant, but some initial data indicated BA.2 had “a slight increase in growth rate over BA.1”.

The Omicron variant is generally known for causing less severe disease than the previous coronavirus variants that have wreaked havoc, like Delta. Van Kerkhove added there so far was “no indication that there is a change in severity” in the BA.2 sub-variant.

Despite being it causes less severe infections, she stressed that Covid remained a dangerous disease and 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,”

“It’s really important that we take measures to reduce our exposure to this virus, whichever variant is circulating.” she said.

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