A NEW Covid variant has emerged in the UK – with over 400 confirmed cases.
It is a sub-variant of Omicron, which seems to spread more quickly but is not thought to be more serious.
It’s called BA.2, and has many of the same mutations as Omicron – with a very low current case rate.
A series of positive studies show that Omicron is milder than other strains in the vaccine – with the vaccine still believed to be effective against this new variant, BA.2.
Latest data from UKHSA suggests it could possibly spread faster Original Omicronbut more research is needed to be sure – with it now officially a variant under investigation.
There’s little to worry about right now, experts say, and importantly, there’s no evidence it’s more serious.
Health and Social Care Minister, Sajid Javid, said: “We are learning to live with this virus – and thanks to our world-leading surveillance system, we are able to quickly detect it. detect and carefully monitor any genetic changes to Covid-19.
“As we cautiously return to Plan A, I encourage you to give yourself and your loved ones the best protection possible and Get Boosted now.”
What is the new variant?
FATHER. 2 initially appeared in early December, not long after Omicron began spreading around the world.
The new sub-variant, discovered in South Africa, Australia and Canada – was originally found in a South African man who had traveled from Gauteng, a hotspot during the Omicron outbreak.
However, the latest data shows that it has actually been seen in many countries since November and nowhere can compete with Omicron.
The first samples were sent from the Philippines, with 40 countries now recording 8,040 sequences of the sub-variant.
There have now been 426 cases of BA.2 in the UK as of December 6, with London topping the table with 146 cases.
But data from the Sanger Institute through 8 January, shows an estimated 1,641 cases in the UK – as tests are thought to have picked up only about 10% of the real total.
Is it a worry?
Scientists say there is nothing to worry about at the moment.
BA.2 is missing a key mutation that allows labs to detect and then flag cases, which can make tracking more difficult.
Scientists have suggested that it may be more contagious, so it will be harder to detect how it spreads.
But studies from Denmark, where the secondary variant accounted for half of all Omicron cases, showed no difference in the risk of hospitalization.
It doesn’t seem to cause a more serious illness than the original Omicron – which is a colder variety for most people, especially those who have been vaccinated.
Health officials in Denmark, who have seen the most BA.2 cases to date, said the Covid vaccine is believed to be still effective.
What did the experts say?
Dr Meera Chand, Covid-19 Incidents Director at UKHSA, said: “The nature of viruses is to evolve and mutate, so we may continue to see new variants emerge as the pandemic continues. .
“Our continuous genomic surveillance allows us to detect them and assess if they are significant.
“There is not enough evidence to date to determine whether BA.2 causes more severe disease than Omicron BA.1, but data are limited and UKHSA continues to investigate.
“Case rates remain high across the UK and we must stay vigilant and do vaccinations. We should all continue to have regular check-ups with LFDs and do PCR testing if symptoms develop. “
Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said early evidence showed no difference in severity.
He tweeted: “Possibly minimal difference in vaccine efficacy against BA.1 and BA.2.
“* Very early observations from India and Denmark show no significant difference in severity compared to BA.1. This data will become more certain (one way or another) in the coming weeks.
“So how worried should we be? People working in the sequencing/surveillance field should definitely keep a close eye on BA.2 (and it most likely did!).
“Personally, I’m not sure BA.2 will have a significant impact on the current Omicron wave of the pandemic…”
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8254555/omicron-subvariant-ba-2-uk/ What is the new ‘sub-variant’ of Omicron? Every letter you consider