Hundreds of new sub-variant of the Omicron have been identified in the United Kingdom. The new variant has been dubbed as BA.2. There concerns about its transmissibility as we all know for sure that the Omicron variant is spreads much faster than all previous variants, including Delta. It has been designated as a variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). This is because of the increase in the number of cases of BA.2 sequences both in Britain and around the world. So far over 400 cases of Omicron BA.2 have been confirmed in the UK. These cases have been confirmed by the Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).
The first case was reported on December 6, 2021. So far, London has reported the highest number of confirmed cases of BA.2 (146). This is followed by the South East which has 97 confirmed cases of the sub-variant. While there are many more things that are still not known about the sub-variant, UKHSA said that early analyses suggest an increased growth rate compared to the original Omicron lineage BA.1.
“[H]owever, growth rates have a low level of certainty early in the emergence of a variant and further analysis is needed,” the health agency added.
It is pertinent to mention that a total of 8,040 sequences of Omicron sublineage to GISAID has been reported in around 40 countries. GISAID is the primary source that provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus.
The first sequence of Omicron was reported from the Philippines. India too has reported around 530 samples of Omicron subvariant. This is followed by Sweden with 181 and Singapore with 127.
According to Dr Meera Chand, Covid-19 Incident Director at UKHSA, the nature of viruses is to evolve and therefore it is very common to have new variants as the pandemic goes on.