Omicron BA.2 variant: The COVID-19 cases worldwide continue to rise and fall amidst the gradual ease of travel restrictions. One of the primary factors behind the fluctuation of coronavirus cases is the emergence of new variants.
Such variants have generated subvariants like the BA.2, which is a subvariant of the Omicron that has already caused a surge in COVID cases in various parts of Europe and the United States. Below is what we know so far about Omicron BA.2 variant.
What is the BA.2 variant?
BA.2 is a sublineage of Omicron or BA.1 and is behind the increase in coronavirus infections in Denmark, India, and the UK last January. Since then, multiple countries have reported BA.2 cases and eventually became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain. Scientists were able to find BA.2 thanks to the more widespread genetic sequencing.
What are the symptoms of BA.2 subvariant?
The Zoe COVID Symptom Study based in the UK enabled hundreds of thousands of people to report their symptoms through smartphone apps. Tim Spector, one of the co-founders of such apps and a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London revealed that based on Zoe data, the following are the symptoms of BA.2 variant:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
BA.2 variant is more transmissible
According to studies, the BA.2 might be 30% more transmissible than the original Omicron and this means without proper mitigation measures, this sublineage can cause rapid spread of COVID in communities. Like the previous variants of Omicron, vaccines are less effective against BA.2. Fortunately, the immunity or protection against the virus can be restored through a booster jab as said by the UK Health Security Agency data.
What is behind BA.2’s rapid growth?
Scientists suspect that the rapid spread of the BA.2 subvariant is because of two reasons: it is more transmissible than earlier variants and it has unique mutations. In total, the BA.2 has eight mutations that are not found in the BA.1 which makes it more transmissible.
To substantiate the findings, researchers in England revealed to have found that it took less time on average for an individual with BA.2 to infect another person. Accordingly, a study in Hong Kong reported that during an outbreak of BA.2 in a public housing complex, the virus doubled every 1.28 days.
Can BA.2 cause reinfections?
A key concern about this subvariant is whether it could re-infect people who previously had BA.1 as various countries have experienced “double peaks” in infection rates. Another is whether vaccines work against BA.2 variant. Omicron can evade the protection of vaccines and breakthrough infections become more common.
Fortunately, the vaccines can still protect people from this variant and against severe diseases, especially people who have already received their booster shots. Additionally, throughout the Omicron outbreak, vaccines remained highly effective against hospitalizations.
Should you be worried?
The BA.2 is a descendant of the Omicron variant and while it is 30% more transmissible than the Omicron, it does not cause a more severe illness. Scientists are continuing to monitor and study BA.2’s effects on disease severity. If you want to learn more about COVID-related news, visa, and coronavirus test, visit Harley Medic International’s website at www.harleymedic.co.uk