NewsWorldCovid: BA.2, "little brother" variant of Omicron closely monitored...

Covid: BA.2, “little brother” variant of Omicron closely monitored by the authorities | The HuffPost – The HuffPost

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A new sub-variant of Omicron, dubbed BA.2, is being closely watched by global health authorities.

CORONAVIRUS – For the moment nothing alarming, but the health authorities are vigilant. Appeared a few weeks ago, a sub-variant of Omicron dubbed “BA.2” is being watched very closely, especially since it would have become the majority in Denmark. And this in particular because we do not yet fully know its characteristics.

BA.2 has been spotted in several countries around the world, particularly in Europe. It is a sub-variant, which means that Omicron, by replicating from infection to infection, has generated “little brothers”, sub-lines which carry one or two mutations with respect to the genome of ‘origin. As it happens, explains to LCI Professor Antoine Flahaut, BA.2 has “28 more mutations” than its big brother. ”

“He does not change the situation” for Véran

“There are variants quite regularly”, recalled Thursday evening January 20 the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, during of a press conference given in the company of Prime Minister Jean Castex. “As far as we know so far, it more or less matches the characteristics we know from Omicron.” It does not “change the deal” at this stage, again assured the minister.

An opinion joined by the scientific council. In its opinion of Thursday 20 January, the institution clarifies that all BA-type variants (Omicron, BA.2 and other sub-variants) “appear to have the same characteristics”, namely less severity than Delta for example, but increased transmissibility.

What Public Health France confirms: “We have an international situation where the Omicron variant circulates a lot, it is normal that we observe sub-lineages over time.” And the agency added, with a little less assurance than the scientific council: “What interests us is whether it has different characteristics in terms of contagiousness, immune escape or severity”.

For the moment, the precise characteristics of the sub-variant have not been analyzed by the WHO, which continues to treat it as if it were Omicron, without making a distinction between the two. “We know neither its origin, nor its virulence, nor its ability to escape immunity, including that conferred by Omicron”, specifies Professor Antoine Flahaut, still at LCI. And the only tangible element is not really positive since it “seems to be more contagious”, he adds.

Does he escape immunity?

But certain data attract attention: BA.2 would thus have become the majority in Denmark where the number of daily cases has started to rise again for a few days.

In France – where the sequencing (i.e. the analysis of the virus responsible for the contamination to know which variant it is after a positive test) is limited compared to other countries-, BA.2 was detected, “ but at very low levels”, specifies Public Health France. Professor Flahaut nevertheless ensures that we will know “soon” what the real share of the new variant is in the country.

In Denmark, on the other hand, it has already supplanted its big brother Omicron (or BA.1). “The Danish authorities have no explanation for this phenomenon but it is being closely monitored”, assures the public health agency. Therefore, France “is closely following the data that will be produced by Denmark”.

In this respect, the main question is to be able to measure the threat represented by the sub-variant. “It will be necessary to quickly know if it escapes the immunity conferred by the vaccine and the previous infections and to know more about its virulence”, explains Antoine Flahaut. In the event that it could re-infect people who have already been infected with Omicron, then the prospect of a new wave would be more than likely.

See also on Le HuffPost: After Omicron, what will be the future variants?

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