Omicron subvariant BA.2: Experts ask to declare new strain 'variant of concern'; Here's why
A Japanese study led by researchers from the University of Tokyo has concluded that the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant is not only faster at spreading, but may also cause more severe disease
Another variant of coronavirus has become a matter of concern for several medical scientists and experts across the globe. The Omicron subvariant BA.2, is the new Covid-19 strain, which the experts have warned that it is capable of causing serious illness just like the 'Delta' variant. A Japanese study led by researchers from the University of Tokyo has concluded that the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant is not only faster at spreading, but may also cause more severe disease.
Here's what the Japanese study has found about the BA.2 sub-strain of the Omicron variant:
1. The Japanese research, which is yet-to-be-peer-reviewed, recently posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv, shows that the BA.2 sub-variant may have features that make it capable of causing serious illness as older coronavirus variants.
2. The study claimed that similar to BA.1, BA.2 subvariant of Omicron appears to largely escape the immunity induced by Covid-19 vaccines.
3. The vaccine-induced humoral immunity fails to function against BA.2 like BA.1.
However, the WHO said while BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1, the subvariant is not more severe.
"Among all subvariants, BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1. However, there is no difference in terms of severity," Maria Van Kerkhova, COVID-19 Technical Lead at WHO said in a video.
Besides, a South African study also said that the omicron BA.2 sub-variant is similar to that from the original strain. Patients infected with the new subvariant suffered from similar rates of severe disease and hospitalization as those with the original omicron strain, according to South African researchers.
Still, the researchers cautioned, South Africa may differ from other locations as most immunity in the country comes from prior Covid infection rather than vaccination.
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