Omicron cases decreased, but its variants BA.2 are deadly, WHO alert – it will spread rapidly

Maria Van Kerkhowa

Tokyo: Sub-variant BA.2 of the Omicron form of the coronavirus not only spreads rapidly but also causes serious illness. This has been revealed in the study done in the laboratory. The results of the study have not yet been independently reviewed. It has just been published on ‘BioRxiv’. It has been said that BA.2 can become a factor of serious illness as compared to the older form of coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that BA.2 is more contagious than BA.1, but the subtype is not more severe. Maria Van Kerkhowa, COVID-19 technical lead at WHO, said in a video, “Among all the subtypes, BA.2 is more contagious than BA.1. However, there is no difference in terms of severity.

In the new study, a Japanese team led by researchers from the University of Tokyo found that BA.2, a subform of Omicron similar to BA.1, largely evades immunity from anti-Covid-19 vaccines. “Experiments have shown that vaccine-prepared immunity fails to act as against BA.1 as against BA.2,” the study authors said.

Initial cases of Omicron first came from Botswana and South Africa in November 2021. It’s BA.1 subform has since spread rapidly around the world and has dominated other forms such as Delta.

As of February this year, the BA.2 lineage, another subform of Omicron, has been traced to several countries such as Denmark and the UK. Researchers have said that BA.2 has begun to overtake BA.1. This suggests that it is more contagious than the original Omicron form. “Ba.2 is thought to be an omicron variant, but its genomic sequence is significantly different from that of BA.1, which suggests that the characteristics of BA.2 are distinct from those of BA.1,” the researchers said.

Researchers studied it on rats. When these organisms were infected with BA.2 and BA.1 during the study, it was observed that animals infected with BA.2 became ill and their lungs were damaged. They noted that in tissue samples, the lungs of BA.2-infected mice suffered more damage than those of those infected with BA.1.