Variant BA.2: Omicron’s little sister arrived in Austria

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Omicron is just spreading across Europe, and a sub-variant is already emerging. BA.2 is active primarily in Denmark.

Omicron, scientifically known as BA.1, dominates worldwide, but now a subspecies has emerged. The “little sister” of the omicron variety called BA.2 has already appeared in several European countries, including the UK and Denmark.

The new virus type has also arrived sporadically in Austria, apparently spreading even faster than Omicron. It is still unclear where the new sub-variant originated, as cases are also being reported from India.

RESEARCHERS OBSERVE OMICRON SUBVARIANT
Medical researchers and epidemiologists are now studying the new BA.2 subvariant. They express surprise at the rapid spread of the subtype, especially in Denmark. It is possible that BA.2 bypasses immune protection. However, infection with it does not appear to be more severe than with omicron, according to initial findings.

Apparently, BA.1 and BA.2 are very similar in their construction, with only ten mutations distinguishing them, as reported by Danish virus researcher Anders Fomsgaard.

MORE DANGEROUS THAN OMICRON?
British virologist Tom Peacock of Imperial College in London wrote on Twitter, “Very early observations from India and Denmark suggest there is no dramatic difference in severity compared to BA.1.” He also said there would likely be “minimal differences in vaccine efficacy against BA.1 and BA.2.”

U.S. epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, however, expressed concern. By his calculation, BA.2 could spread twice as fast as Omicron. The British health authority classified BA.2 as a “variant under surveillance.” Only a few hundred cases have emerged in the island nation so far.

The Robert Koch Institute told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that in Germany, “there has not been a sharp increase in the proportion of BA.2 among all detections of omicron, as has happened in other countries.”

WHY DOES CORONAVIRUS MUTATE?
Mutating and constantly evolving new subspecies is normal for viruses, as it wants to spread as quickly as possible and infect as many hosts as possible in order to survive. Omicron is already significantly more contagious than its predecessor Delta. And Delta, in turn, was more contagious than the original Corona form.

According to studies, Omicron causes mostly mild courses, especially in vaccinated patients. But it is deceptive to expect that the Corona pandemic will soon be over.

  • hp/sources: kurier.at/orf.at/picture:
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