The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it is closely monitoring a small number of cases of two novel sub-variants of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus strain with the aim of ascertaining whether they are more infectious or harmful compared to the previous strains,
BA.4 and BA.5, sister variations of the original BA.1 Omicron variant, have been added to the monitoring list of the global health organization. BA.1 and BA.2, which are now worldwide dominant, as well as BA.1.1 and BA.3, are already being tracked by the organization.
According to the WHO, these new variants are being tracked because they had “additional mutations that need to be investigated further to understand their impact on immunological escape potential.”
Viruses are constantly evolving, but only a few alterations have an impact on their ability to disseminate, elude prior protection from vaccination or infection, or the severity of sickness they cause.
For example, BA.2 now accounts for more than 94 per cent of all sequenced cases and is more transmissible than its siblings, although there is no evidence that it is more likely to produce severe disease.
According to WHO, just a few dozen instances of BA.4 and BA.5 have been recorded to the global GISAID database.
BA.4 was discovered in South Africa, Denmark, Botswana, Scotland, and England from January 10 to March 30, according to the UK’s Health Security Agency.
As of last week, all of the BA.5 cases had been found in South Africa, but Botswana’s health ministry announced on Monday that it had discovered four cases of BA.4 and BA.5, all among adults aged 30 to 50 who were completely vaccinated and showing minor symptoms.
(Adapted from Independent.co.uk)