Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Tuesday, Feb 07, 2023

Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Is Gaining Ground. Should We Worry?

Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Is Gaining Ground. Should We Worry?

Omicron is more transmissible than delta, the variant that became globally dominant in the middle of last year, and the new subvariant is especially infectious.

Two years into the pandemic, a mutated version of the omicron variant, known as BA.2, has become the latest challenge to taming COVID-19.

The subvariant, detected in at least 57 countries, appears to spread even more easily than the original. But so far it doesn't seem to cause more severe disease and booster shots remain an effective shield. Scientists are racing to answer a number of questions about this variant as they prepare for the next one.

How transmissible is BA.2?

Omicron is more transmissible than delta, the variant that became globally dominant in the middle of last year, and the new subvariant is especially infectious. Take Denmark, where BA.2 has quickly gained ground. A study based on about 8,500 households in December and January found that people infected with BA.2 spread the virus to an average of 39% of susceptible household members, versus 29% for the original omicron variant. That's in line with preliminary U.K. data.

Is BA.2 more dangerous than Omicron?

Omicron and its related strains appear less likely than earlier variants to cause serious illness, particularly in vaccinated people. The World Health Organization said this week that BA.2 doesn't seem more severe than the original omicron variant, based on evidence from Denmark, where its spread hadn't led to unexpected spikes in hospitalizations. In announcing the end of coronavirus restrictions late last month, the Danish government declared the disease no longer poses a threat to society, even as cases hit a record high.

How well do vaccines work against it?

The data suggest some Covid vaccines are less effective at preventing infections caused by omicron than previous variants, while still doing a good job protecting against severe disease. Although the subvariant appears to be even more contagious, Covid shots -- in particular booster doses -- are just as effective against BA.2, according to initial findings from U.K. health authorities. By 25 weeks or more after the second dose, vaccines blocked 13% of cases -- a rate that increased to 70% two weeks after a booster.

How does BA.2 differ from the original?

The latest iteration of the coronavirus represents a small minority of infections but has rapidly spread in countries such as South Africa, Denmark, India and England. The two versions differ by some 40 mutations, including a key alteration in the spike region of BA.2. While the two are related, there are enough differences to drive a change in behavior. The milder form of most omicron cases in vaccinated people may leave those who recover still vulnerable to existing virus and future variants, according to researchers.

What does it mean for the pandemic?

Virus hunters are trying to better understand the properties of BA.2 as they brace for future variants, and some believe BA.2 could prolong the omicron wave. The characteristics of the subvariant may lead to a "substantially longer tail of circulation of omicron," computational biologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said in a Jan. 28 Twitter post. A potentially slower decline in cases could lead to higher hospitalizations and pose a problem for countries with lower vaccination rates.


Related Articles

2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges