A new subtype of Omicron variant is reportedly spreading in more than 40 countries worldwide including Denmark,UK, India, Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, South Africa, and the USA.
Scientists had reported cases of this new variant, “omicron BA.2,” in at least four states in the United States – California, New Mexico, Texas and Washington. Scientists has not labeled the new variant a variant of concern yet.
USA Today reported:
Yes, a new variant of omicron is spreading on at least four continents. But, no, it shouldn’t be a cause for panic, Massachusetts scientists said Tuesday.
Unlike two years ago when everyone was first learning about COVID-19, there are now many tools to combat the disease, and, like its cousin, omicron BA.2 is expected to remain relatively mild.
“I don’t think it’s going to cause the degree of chaos and disruption, morbidity and mortality that BA.1 did,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to continue to move to a better place and, hopefully, one where each new variant on the horizon isn’t news.”
It’s not clear yet whether BA.2 is pushing out the original omicron variant, now referred to as BA.1, he said.
In Denmark, for instance, the rise of BA.2 is coming as BA.1 falls, but they’re currently split about 50-50, so “it’s not clear which of these variants is driving the outbreak,” Lemieux said.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, where cases had fallen dramatically after a huge surge around Thanksgiving, BA.2 is now more prevalent than BA.1.
“What we don’t know and still have almost no information on is what impact this will have on case counts, on hospitalizations, on deaths,” he said.
Scientists still know very little about the transmissibility of BA.2 compared to BA.1, said Jeremy Luban, a professor of molecular medicine, biochemistry & molecular pharmacology at UMass Medical School.
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It was previously reported that a new variant named IHU was detected in France and has 46 mutations (more than Omicron).