The World Health Organisation (WHO) on February 1, 2022, stated that a subvariant of Omicron strain has been identified in 57 countries. Studies reveal that the variant of the Omicron strain can be more contagious than the original one.
In the weekly epidemiological update, WHO mentioned the variant, which accounts for over 93 percent of all coronavirus specimens collected in the past month, counts several sub-lineages: BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3.
It added that the first two variants that are BA.1 and BA.1.1 account for over 96 percent of all the Omicron sequences. On the other hand, cases involving the BA.2 variant have also increased. This sub-variant counts various mutations from the original variant. Including the spike protein that dots the virus's surface and is key to entering the cells of humans.
"BA.2- designated sequences have been submitted to GISAID, a global science initiative. In some countries, the sub-variant now accounted for over half of all Omicron sequences collected." WHO said.
The UN health agency shared further studies are underway regarding the severity and transmissibility. Many recent studies have shown that the BA.2 variant can be more dangerous than the other variants.
One of the WHO's top experts on Covid, Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters that although there is limited information about the sub-variants, initial data indicates that BA.2 had a slight increase in growth rate over BA.1.
Omicron causes less severe health issues in comparison to the other coronavirus variants like delta, but it is highly transmissible. With new combinations and strains, the Covid threat continues.
Van Kerkhove says, "We need people to be aware that this virus is continuing to circulate and it's continuing to evolve. It's really important that we take measures to reduce our exposure to this virus, whichever variant is circulating."