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Omicron BA.2 sub-variant detected, more transmissible than previous strain

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 4 February 2022, 17:38 IST

The COVID-19 omicron sub-variant known as BA.2 has been detected across Africa and countries should sequence more coronavirus samples so the extent of its spread can be checked, the World Health Organization said.

Thus far, the BA.2 has been detected in Senegal, Kenya and Malawi, Botswana and South Africa, Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, a virologist with the WHO, said Thursday

"We're a bit concerned that we may have missed some of this BA.2 in some of the samples that we've screened previously," she said.

BA.2 sub-variant is causing worry among scientists as analyses suggest that it appears to be more transmissible than the previous omicron strain, the discovery of which was put out by South Africa and Botswana in November.

Analyses also suggest that developing a mild infection with either of the two strains may not give a strong-enough immune response to protect against another omicron infection. Early details from BA.2 infections in Denmark and the U.K. indicate that the strain does not cause more severe disease.

The BA.2 sub-variant is spreading at a very quick pace in South Africa and has been detected in seven of the nation's nine provinces, Tulio de Oliveira, who runs gene-sequencing institutions and advises the government on the pandemic, said in a presentation on Wednesday. It has the capability to generate a second surge of infections in the ongoing wave, he said.

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First published: 4 February 2022, 17:31 IST