Another Covid variant that's more contagious than Omicron
There are already dozens of cases across almost half of the U.S of a new Covid Subvariant that’s even more contagious than the already highly transmissible omicron variant.
Nearly half of the U.S states have confirmed the presence of BA.2 with at least 127 known cases nationwide as of Friday, according to a global database that tracks Covid variants. The CDC said although BA>2 has increased in proportion to the original omicron strain in some countries, it is currently circulating at a low level in the U.S
The subvariant is 1.5 times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, referred to by scientists as BA.1, according to Statens Serum Institut, which conducts infectious disease surveillance for Denmark.
The new sublineage doesn’t appear to further reduce the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic infection, according to the U.K Health Security Agency
“Currently there is no evidence that the BA.2 lineage is more severe than the BA.1 lineage,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said.
BA.2 overtook the original omicron as the dominant variant in Denmark over a few weeks, says the chairman of the Scandinavian nation’s committee that conducts surveillance of Covid variants, Troels Lillebaek.
Supposedly, the BA.2 variant has five unique mutations on a key part of the spike protein the virus uses to attach to human cells and invade them. Mutations on this part of the spike, known as the receptor-binding domain, are often associated with higher transmissibility.
The BA.2 has a “substantial” growth advantage over the original omicron. The sister variant spreads faster than the original in all regions of England where there were enough cases to conduct an analysis, according to the U.K Health Security Agency.
With covid cases increasing in Denmark, more than 50,000 new infections were reported on Friday in a country of 5.8 million people, according to the country’s health ministry. Lillebaek said it’s safe to assume BA.2 is driving the increase of new infections in Denmark right now.
“If you are in a community or living in a country where you have a low vaccination rate, then you will have for sure more admissions to hospital and more severe cases and then more going to ICU,” he said.
In the U.S, about 67% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.