Scientists and health officials around the world are eyeing a descendant of the Omicron variant found in more than 50 countries, including the United States. This variant of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely believed to be more secretive than the original omicron because particular genetic traits make it a little more difficult to detect.
Danish scientists reported this week that preliminary information suggests it may be up to one and a half times more contagious than the original version. But scientists say much is still not known about it, including whether it causes more serious disease.
Where has it spread?
According to data collected by the Scripps Research Lab, more than 18,000 genetic sequences of BA.2 have been uploaded to GISAID, a global platform for sharing coronavirus data. Tension has been detected in at least 54 countries and 24 US states. “So far, we haven’t seen it start to gain ground in the US,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas.
The mutant appears to be much more common in Asia and Europe. In Denmark, it has spread rapidly and has become the dominant form, according to the State Serum Institute. Preliminary calculations indicate that BA.2 is one-and-a-half times more contagious than BA.1, the original O’Micron, Dr. Tyra Grove Krauss of the institute said in a press release earlier this week.
There are a lot of mutations in BA.2. About 20 of them in the spike protein that stud the outside of the virus are shared with the original omicron. But it also has additional genetic changes not seen in the initial version. It’s not clear how important those mutations are, especially in populations that have encountered the original omicron, said Dr. Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. For now, the parent Omicron BA.1 and its descendant BA.2 are considered a subset of Omicron. Scientists from the UK Health Protection Agency found that the vaccine’s effectiveness against symptomatic disease appeared to be similar to that of BA.1 and BA.2. Looking at all the vaccine brands combined, the scientists found that they were about 70 percent effective against symptomatic disease from BA.2 two or more weeks after the vaccine’s booster shot.
what should you do?
Doctors also recommend taking the same precautions that they have given for Covid-19. Get vaccinated and follow public health guidelines about wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, and staying home when sick. “The latest edition is another reminder that the pandemic is not over. We all want this to end,” Long said.
Total number of cases worldwide as of Saturday
total number of deaths worldwide
Worldwide patients cured till Saturday
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