'Premature to declare victory' as highly infectious Omicron sub-variant found in 57 countries: WHO

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Feb 02, 2022, 12:10 PM IST

COVID-19. Photograph:(Others)

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Recent studies have claimed that sub-variant BA.2 is more infectious than the original Omicron

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned over the sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The sub-variant is said to be even more infectious than the original version and WHO said that it has been detected in at least 57 countries so far. 

The Omicron variant was first detected last year in November and has caused a massive surge in the number of cases worldwide, becoming a dominant variant. 

However, some experts claimed that despite being highly infectious, the fast-spreading and heavily mutated Omicron variant is not that lethal as compared to Delta. 

The variant, which accounts for over 93 per cent of all coronavirus specimens collected in the past month, counts several sub-lineages: BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3, WHO said in the weekly epidemiological update. 

The global health agency added that there has been a clear rise in cases involving BA.2. As per the agency, the mentioned sub-variant BA.2. counts several different mutations from the original, including on the spike protein that dots the virus's surface and is key to entering human cells. 

"BA.2- designated sequences have been submitted to GISAID from 57 countries to date," WHO said. Important to note that several recent studies have hinted that BA.2 is more infectious than the original Omicron. 

The UN health agency said little was known yet about the differences between the sub-variants, and called for studies into its characteristics, including its transmissibility, how good it is at dodging immune protections and its virulence. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "It’s premature for any country either to surrender, or to declare victory. This virus is dangerous, and it continues to evolve before our very eyes. WHO is currently tracking four sub-lineages of the Omicron variant of concern, including BA.2" 

"Since Omicron was first identified just 10 weeks ago, almost 90 million cases have been reported to WHO - more than were reported in the whole of 2020. We are now starting to see a very worrying increase in deaths, in most regions of the world," he added.