Scientists investigate new sub-variant of Omicron found in UK

Scientists are investigating a new sub-strain of the Omicron variant that may be more transmissible.

A sister variant of the usual BA.1 type of Omicron has been found in various European countries.

BA.2 shares similarities with BA.1, and they are both considered to be Omicron.

Cases in the UK are low, with just 53 sequences of the sub-lineage identified as of January 10.

The Health Security Agency has designated BA.2 as a variant under investigation while it undertakes further analysis.

‘It is the nature of viruses to evolve and mutate, so it’s to be expected that we will continue to see new variants emerge,’ said Dr Meera Chand, incident director at the UKHSA.

There are some indications BA.2 may be more transmissible, but experts say there is no conclusive evidence as of yet.

It is not known whether BA.2 causes more severe disease than the original Omicron variant.

However, initial studies from Denmark – where it makes up around half of Omicron cases – show no difference in hospitalisations between the original form and BA.2.

But he said he did not think BA.2 would have a ‘substantial’ impact on the current Omicron wave, which is likely past its peak in many countries already.

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