Subvariant BA.2 already grows faster than the omicron; see what is known
A few days after the discovery of the omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, two subvariants of the new strain were discovered: BA.1 and BA.2. At that time, BA.1 was responsible for the highest number of infections, while BA.2 was much rarer and did not attract the attention of specialists.
However, the current situation of the pandemic in some countries, such as Denmark, shows that the number of cases caused by BA.2 is growing. In the Scandinavian country, cases of the omicron subvariant are already at 45%, before the prevalence was 20%.
In other countries in the region, such as Sweden and Norway, and others outside Scandinavia, such as the United Kingdom, have also seen the number of cases of Covid-19 caused by BA.2 grow. New cases of the subvariant are estimated to be doubling every four days.
If this pace continues, BA.2 should become dominant in Denmark as early as February. However, in the UK, the strain still accounts for about 1.5% of all cases. Therefore, even if the growth rate remains constant, the subvariant should not become dominant anytime soon.
BA.2 has a number of genetic changes compared to BA.1, including the spike protein, which is used by the virus to infect human cells. These changes make the subvariant especially dangerous, as most current vaccines focus on the spike protein.
Because of its genetic alterations, BA.2 has been called a “stealthy omicron” because it is more difficult to identify. BA.1 has a mutation that makes it visible in PCR tests, however, BA.2 does not have this mutation, which makes genetic sequencing necessary for its detection.
However, this aspect does not affect diagnostic tests, which normally detect BA.2. The mutation only makes it difficult to map the prevalence of the strain. Furthermore, it seems that underlining is not more or less aggressive than BA.1.
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According to the Danish health authorities, initial analyzes did not show an increase in the number of hospitalizations for BA.2 compared to BA.1. The next step is to test for underlining with vaccine-induced antibodies.
The results have not yet been released, however, it is expected that the immunizers will have a positive effect against severe forms of the disease caused by the subvariant.
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