Coronavirus: Omicron subvariant 1.5 times more contagious finds study; its severity same as original says WHO

Omicron BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1, says a study conducted by Statens Serum Institut, which conducts infectious disease and biological threat surveillance for the Danish government. “Several countries, including Denmark, have observed the two Omicron sub variants: BA.1 and BA.2. In Denmark the latter has rapidly replaced the former as the dominant subvariant,” the study finds.

Currently, the Omicron variant of Coronavirus is the dominant infection causing variant. Reports of emergence of another virulent strain of this superspreader variant has stirred a new interest among people.

According to WHO expert the Omicron subvariant is already becoming dominant in the Philippines, Nepal, Qatar, India and Denmark. The subvariant has already been detected in 57 countries, it says.

The emerging BA.2 form of the Omicron coronavirus variant does not seem to be any more severe than the original BA.1 form, an official of the World Health Organization, Dr. Boris Pavlin, said on Tuesday, as per a report carried by the Reuters.

In an online briefing, Dr. Boris Pavlin of the WHO’s COVID-19 Response Team has said that vaccines also continue to provide similar protection against the different forms of Omicron.

The research study has also talked about the positive effect of vaccination.”The risk of being infected (susceptibility) was higher in unvaccinated persons compared with vaccinated and booster-vaccinated household members in both BA.2 and BA.1 infected households, underlining a positive effect of vaccination towards both Omicron variants,” the study says.

With fresh reports emerging about the new subvariant, information is being sought on whether this variant is dangerous and should be of concern or not. Based on the data from Denmark, Dr Pavlin has said that there appears to be no difference in disease severity. The WHO expert’s statement holds that the subvariant is not likely to cause severe disease upon infection.

“Although BA.2 has the potential to replace BA.1 globally,” he said and added that looking at other countries where BA.2 is now overtaking, we’re not seeing any higher bumps in hospitalization than expected.

The study estimated the transmission dynamics of BA.1 and BA.2 in over 8,000 households between late December 2021 and early January 2022.

“Vaccination is profoundly protective against severe disease, including for Omicron. BA.2 is rapidly replacing BA.1. Its impact is unlikely to be substantial, although more data are needed,” the WHO expert said.






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