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Home / News / World /  Omicron BA.4, BA.5 spotted in 5 countries. WHO explains severity, transmissibility
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With new Omicron sub-variants (BA.4 and BA.5) being reported, World Health Organisation (WHO) notified that in terms of epidemiology or severity, the new variants are not very different from previous sub-lineages of Omicron. But this could definitely change! This comes at a time, when parts of Asia and Europe are witnessing a massive COVID surge led by the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant.

Earlier this week, South African scientists notified two new sublineages -BA.4 and BA.5. Tulio de Oliveira, who runs gene-sequencing institutions in the country, however, notified that the lineages have not caused a spike in infections in South Africa. So far, the subvariants have been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and U.K. 

“Given the very low infections, hospitalizations and deaths in South Africa we are alerted about the continued evolution but not concerned," de Oliveira said. “All of the laboratory science on virus neutralization and vaccines are already under way and we are strengthening genomic surveillance."

WHO has already taken note of the sub-variants. And WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove said in a tweet, so far, we haven't detected any changes in the epidemiology or severity of BA.4 or BA.5 compared to previous sub-lineages of Omicron. But this may change!

This comes at a time when WHO emergency committee on Covid-19 on Wednesday unanimously affirmed that Covid remains a major public health danger. 

Globally, in the week to Sunday, the number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths continued to decline for a third consecutive week. But, some countries continue to report serious spikes in cases, which is putting pressure on hospitals. The world health agency further insisted that countries must stop dropping their guard.

Meanwhile, noting that we are still in the middle of the pandemic, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This virus has over time become more transmissible and it remains deadly especially for the unprotected and unvaccinated that don't have access to health care and antivirals"

WHO chief urged all to get vaccinated and continue following COVID protocols.

The WHO said the Omicron variant accounted for 99.2 percent of samples collected in the last 30 days that have been sequenced and uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative, with the previously-dominant Delta variant now less than 0.1 percent

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