Explainer: What is the new 'stealth Omicron'?

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jan 27, 2022, 09:07 AM(IST)

British health officials have detected growing cases of BA.2 variant Photograph:( AFP )

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UK's health agency UKHSA has classified Omicron's BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation amid sharp rise in new cases in Britain.

As the world continues to battle against the Omicron wave, the World Health Organisation(WHO) warned that sub-variants have been on the rise worldwide.

Reports say the BA.2 variant dubbed the "stealth Omicron" has been on the rise in UK and Denmark.

What is the BA.2 variant?

Amid the surge in Omicron cases, British health officials have detected growing cases of BA.2 variant. According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) at least 400 cases have been detected in the UK.

Also Read | Omicron survives over 21 hours on skin and more than 8 days on plastic: Study

Omicron has three sub-strains - BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3.

The UK health agency has classified BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation (VUI) amid sharp rise in new cases of the variant.

Virologist Tom Peacock in a tweet said "virology labs worldwide are currently scrambling to assess BA.2" while asserting that there is no strong data available on it. "Even with slightly higher transmissibility this absolutely is not a Delta," he added.

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"Assuming BA.2 is antigenically similar but more transmissible it is likely to exacerbate existing Omicron waves," Peacock added.

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The BA.2 has reportedly spread to 40 countries including Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, Singapore, the Philippines and India.  

What is WHO's view on BA.2 variant?

The UN health body hasn't designated the new Omicron sub-variant as a "variant of concern" although it said it is monitoring the situation closely as cases rise across the world.

WHO said the overall risk involving Omicron remains high amid record number of cases worldwide with the new variant accounting for 89  per cent cases and Delta comprising of 10.7 COVID-19 cases.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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