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New Omicron Covid Variant Is Under Investigation

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New Omicron Covid Variant Is Under Investigation

A new Covid variant is currently under investigation according to The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The UKHSA have shared information on the sub-lineage of the Omicron variant known as 'BA.2', with cases believed to be very low.

The agency say that just 53 sequences have been identified in the UK as of 10 January, reports Sky News.

In Denmark, where half of the cases are BA.2, initial studies have shown there to be no change in hospitalisations between the first Omicron variant and the new one.

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Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

However, more data and investigation is needed to make these reports more conclusive.

The UKHSA's incident director, Dr Meera Chand, says that the new strand was fully expected and it's 'the nature of viruses to evolve and mutate'.

"Our continued genomic surveillance allows us to detect them and assess whether they are significant," added Dr Chand.

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Anders Fomsgaard, researcher at Statens Serum Institut (SSI) told broadcaster TV 2: "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."

"It is a possibility," he said. "In that case, we must be prepared for it. And then, in fact, we might see two peaks of this epidemic."

While more evidence is still needed, there are some concerns that the new variant might me more transmissible than BA.1.

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Tom Peacock, a virologist from the Imperial College of London tweeted: "[Consistent] growth across multiple countries is evidence BA.2 may be some degree more transmissible than BA.1."

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

In terms of the original BA.1, the UKSHA say insisted that boosters continue to provide high levels of protection against severe disease from Omicron in older adults.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair of COVID-19 immunisation, said: "The current data shows the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups. For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed.

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"The data is highly encouraging and emphasises the value of a booster jab. With Omicron continuing to spread widely, I encourage everyone to come forward for their booster dose, or if unvaccinated, for their first 2 doses, to increase their protection against serious illness."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Coronavirus

Anish Vij
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