Fast-spreading new BA.2 Omicron subvariant likely to replace original Omicron


The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which has quickly taken over in Denmark, is more transmissible than the more common BA.1 and more able to infect vaccinated people, a Danish study has found.

The study, which analysed coronavirus infections in more than 8,500 Danish households between December and January, found that people infected with the BA.2 subvariant were roughly 33% more likely to infect others, compared to those infected with BA.1.

“We conclude that Omicron BA.2 is inherently substantially more transmissible than BA.1, and that it also possesses immune-evasive properties that further reduce the protective effect of vaccination against infection,” the study’s researchers said.

Read more: WHO expects severe omicron cases, warns against treating variant as mild disease

On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters from the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, giving warning, he said, this pandemic is nowhere near over,” The UN health agency chief warned against dismissing as mild the coronavirus variant Omicron, which has spread like wildfire around the globe since it was first detected in southern Africa in November.

He said that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is much more contagious than previous strains but seems to cause less serious disease. That has triggered a debate on whether the virus is on the verge of passing from the pandemic phase to becoming an endemic disease that humanity can live with, with the implication that the danger will have passed.

“An exponential rise in cases, regardless of the severity of the individual variants, leads to inevitable increase in hospitalisations and deaths,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told Tuesday’s press conference.

“Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading,” he said.

“Make no mistake: Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities.” He said there were indications that the Omicron-fuelled surge of Covid cases may have peaked in some countries.

Tedros said, “This gives hope that the worst of this latest wave is done with, but no country is out of the woods yet.” there was an urgent need to remove the pressure building on health systems. “Now is not the time to give up and wave the white flag,” he said.

“We can still significantly reduce the impact of the current wave by sharing and using health tools effectively and implementing public health and social measures that we know work.”

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