Home / Science / Health /  What is stealth Omicron, can sub-variant BA.2 escape immune system? WHO explains
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With new sub-variants of Omicron coming to light, there seems to be much confusion brewing around the COVID variant. Clarifying the air around it, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on Covid-19 said, Omicron includes Pango lineage B.1 and also its descendent lineages.  That is, BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, all three together form the Omicron family. 

She further retweeted a series of tweets that explains the coronavirus strains and why WHO decided to call BA.1, BA.2 and B.3 as Omicron family. 

Just to clarify some confusion about what 'Omicron' is. 'Omicron' has always applied to the whole family (BA.1-3 - we've known about them all since late-Nov/early-Dec). But the prevalence of BA.1 meant that it got shorthanded as 'Omicron' - that's causing some confusion now, it says

The first sequences identified were BA.1 - spreading quickly & now coming to dominate. BA.2 & BA.3 looked a bit like 'little sisters' who weren't as quick - they didn't do much. BA.3 is still not doing much, but BA.2 is now catching up on her sister's heels, another tweet says. 

A call had to be made very early on about whether BA.1 & BA.2 (the most notable) would be given one name or two. There was a lot of discussion of options among scientists. At the end, WHO decided that all 3 would be called Omicron.

WHO, in collaboration with partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions and researchers have been monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020. During late 2020, the emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the characterisation of specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOCs), in order to prioritise global monitoring and research, and ultimately to inform the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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