Covid-19 Sub-Variant Omicron Raises New Virus Concerns

Scientists are watching closely the newly discovered Omicron version sub-variant of the Covid-19 virus to find out how its exposure could affect pandemic spread in the future.

The preliminary Omicron version has turned out to be the dominant virus spreading in recent months however British health authorities have significantly diagnosed hundreds of Omicron cases classified as BA.2, however international databases indicate that the latest variant could spread relatively quickly.

In the first 10 days of this month, more than 400 cases were identified by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and have highlighted the last version has been identified in around 40 other countries, majority of most recent cases in countries including Sweden, Denmark, India. 

The UK Health Security Agency has told on Friday that it had classified BA.2 sub-version as a variant under investigation (VUI) as its cases were increasing, even if the BA.1 variant currently remains dominant in Britain.

The authorities highlighted that the significance of changes to the virus is still uncertain and it required further research, as notably in Denmark and India cases showed a sharp increase in BA.2 incidence.

French epidemiologist Antoine Flahault informed AFP that the rapid growth of sub-variant is surprising, which has been spreading mostly in Asia, has taken hold in Denmark.

Scientists must assess how the virus which has caused the worst international health crisis in the century, carries on evolving and mutating. The latest epitome does not possess the same mutation pattern to track and compare BA.1 against Delta, the previously dominant variant.

BA.2 has yet to be assigned as a variant of concern, but Flahault said that the countries have to be alert about the sub-variant development, as the scientists increase the level of their research. He also observed that in mid of January France expected a spike in sub-variant contamination, but it did not happen. Perhaps this variant seems very transmissible but not virulent than BA.1.

The public health agency of France told on Friday that it is interesting that this sub-variant is different in terms of severity and contagiousness and possesses different characteristics from BA.1.

The country is monitoring the variant developments as it spread across the region. As the only handful of BA.2 cases have been observed in France.

A virologist at Imperial College, London Tom Peacock tweeted that early observations from Denmark and India suggest there is no noticeable difference in the sub-variant severity compared to BA.1, adding that the new variant should not bring into question the usefulness of existing vaccines.

He further said that it is likely to be very minimal differences in the effectiveness of the vaccine against BA.1 and BA.2. And it is not sure that BA.2 is going to have a significant impact on the present Omicron wave of the pandemic. 

He also predicts that the peak of BA.1 waves has been past or near to the end in several countries. It would be surprising if at this point BA.2 caused a second wave. With slightly higher transmissibility it is not a Delta-Omicron change and is likely to be slower and subtle.