Covid’s Most Recent Variant Is 1.5 Times More Infectious Than Omicron

There have already been dozens of cases of a novel Covid subvariant that is even more contagious than the previously highly transmissible omicron variant over nearly half of the United States.

According to a global data system that tracks Covid variations, nearly half of US states have confirmed the presence of BA.2, with at least 127 reported occurrences countrywide as of Friday. Although BA.2 has expanded in proportion to the original omicron variant in some nations, it is now circulating at a low level in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Statens Serum Institut, which monitors infectious diseases in Norway, the subvariant is 1.5 times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, known as BA.1.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, the new sublineage does not appear to affect the effectiveness of immunizations against symptomatic infection.

Covid’s most recent variation is 1.5 times more contagious than omicron, and it’s now circulating in nearly half of the United States.

“Currently there is no evidence that the BA.2 lineage is more severe than the BA.1 lineage,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said.

Over the course of a few weeks, BA.2 eclipsed the original omicron as the main version in Denmark, according to Troels Lillebaek, chairman of the Scandinavian nation’s commission that monitors Covid variants.

In the most critical locations, BA.1 and BA.2 exhibit many variances in their mutations. In fact, the difference between BA.1 and BA.2 is bigger than the difference between the original “wild strain” and the Alpha variety, which was the world’s first major mutation.

According to Lillebaek, the BA.2 variation includes five distinct mutations in a key portion of the spike protein that the virus uses to adhere to human cells and invade them. Higher transmissibility is frequently related to mutations in the receptor-binding domain of the spike.

BA.2 has a “substantial” growth advantage over the original omicron, according to the UK Health Security Agency. According to the organization, the sister variant spread quicker than the original omicron in all parts of England where there were enough instances to conduct a study.

BA.2 does not appear to diminish vaccination effectiveness any more than the original omicron, according to a preliminary assessment.

Two weeks after receiving the shot, a booster dose was 70 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic sickness from BA.2, compared to 63 per cent for the original omicron strain.

BA.2 has not been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. However, as omicron spreads at an unprecedented rate over the world, WHO officials have repeatedly warned that new variations will emerge. The WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, warned on Tuesday that the next Covid version will be more transmissible.

“The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Van Kerkhove said. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.”

According to Lillebaek, there isn’t enough data to say if BA.2 can reinfect persons who have already been infected with the original omicron. Prior infection, on the other hand, would almost certainly offer some BA.2 crossover immunity.

Pfizer and Moderna began clinical studies on omicron-specific vaccines this week, amid rising fear that new variants would arise as the protection induced by the original vaccines wears off.

(Adapted from Business-Standard.com)

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