Health officials in the United Kingdom are investigating BA.2 – a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, according to a report by Reuters. The UK Health Security Agency designated BA.2 as a variant under investigation. They also said that it could have a growth advantage.
BA.2 still has not been designated as a variant of concern. The people familiar with the developments told Reuters that this sub-lineage of the Omicron variant does not have the specific mutation seen in Omicron which makes it harder to easily distinguish it from Delta.
The UK has sequenced 426 cases of Covid-19 of this new variant. Along with the UK, most cases of the variant under investigation have been reported from Denmark, India, UK, Sweden and Singapore. Most cases have been reported from Denmark.
Denmark reported a continuous rise in the number of new cases due to BA.2, with 45% cases recorded in the second week of 2022 spurred by the sub-lineage of the Omicron variant. Researchers in Denmark also said that it is possible that this epidemic fuelled by the Omicron variant could have two peaks.
The UKHSA said that 40 nations have reported cases belonging to the BA.2 sub-lineage including the nations mentioned above.
Dr Meera Chand, incident director at the UKHSA told news agency Reuters that new variants will continue to emerge. “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,” Chand was quoted as saying.
Researchers in Denmark said they were puzzled with the spurt in growth but they were not yet worried. Anders Fomsgaard, researcher at Statens Serum Institut (SSI) said that BA.2 could be more resistant to the immunity in the population.
“It may be that it is more resistant to the immunity in the population, which allows it to infect more. We do not know yet. (There could be) a possibility that people infected with BA.1 might not be immune from then catching BA.2 soon after,” Fomsgaard was quoted as saying by Reuters. However, there was no increase in the number of hospitalizations.