European scientists are closely monitoring a recently discovered subtype of the Omicron version of the Covid-19 virus to determine how its emergence could affect the future spread of the epidemic.
The initial variant Ómicron has become the dominant strain of the virus in recent months, but British health authorities in particular have identified hundreds of cases from the latest version, called BA.2, while international data indicate that it can spread relatively quickly.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has been identified. More than 400 cases in Britain in the first ten days of this month He noted that the latest variant was detected in about 40 other countries, with the most recent cases in some countries such as India, Denmark and Sweden.
The UK Health Security Services (UKHSA) said on Friday it had appointed Substrain BA.2 as a variant under investigation (VUI), whose cases have been increasing, although the BA.1 pedigree in Great Britain is still currently dominant.
The authority stressed that “there is still doubt about the importance of changes in the viral genome”, which requires vigilance, as cases of recent days have shown in parallel. A sharp increase in the incidence of BA.2, especially in India and Denmark.
“What surprised us was how quickly this sub-variety, which has been widely circulated in Asia, spread in Denmark,” French epidemiologist Antoine Flaholt told AFP.
Scientists must assess how the virus, which has caused the worst global health crisis in a century, evolved and mutated. Its most recent incarnation does not possess the specific mutation used to track and compare BA.1 delta, the previously dominant strain.
BA.2 has not yet been classified as a different type of concern, but Flahault says countries need to keep an eye on the latest developments as scientists step up monitoring.
He noted that “(France) expected the peak of pollution in mid-January: it did not happen and it may be due to this variant which appears to be highly transmissible but is no more virulent than BA.1”. “What concerns us is whether this (alternative) has different characteristics” from BA.1 in terms of infection and severity, the French public health agency said on Friday.
So far, only a few cases of BA.2 have appeared in France, but the country is monitoring the development of the disease along the English Channel.
So says Flaholt, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva The key word is not panic but ‘vigilance’., since “at the moment we have the impression that the intensity (of the BA.2 states) is comparable” to the cases of the classic Micron variable.
“But there are many questions on the table” and the need to monitor the properties of the new variant on the block.
“The first observations from India and Denmark indicate that there is no significant difference in gravity compared to BA.1Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London tweeted., adding that the latter alternative should not call into question the efficacy of existing vaccines.
Peacock emphasized, “We do not currently have a clear idea of how much transmissible BA.2 is comparable to BA.1. However, we can make some early guesses/observations.”
He added that “there are likely to be slight differences in vaccine efficacy against BA.1 and BA.2. Personally, I am not sure that BA.2 will have a significant impact on the current Omicron wave of the epidemic.” “Several countries approached or even exceeded the peak of BA.1 waves. I would be very surprised if BA.2 caused a second wave at this point. Even with slightly higher transmissibility, this is not a delta-omicron change at all, but likely to be slower and more accurate,” he predicted.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday that BA.2 does not appear to be a game-changer, as variables appear on the scene “quite regularly”. But he indicated that the ruling would be conservative.
“What we know now is that (BA.2) is more or less consistent with the properties we know about microns,” one sign.
With information from Agence France-Presse