A sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2, has now become the most dominant variant of the highly transmissible virus across the globe. This variant has now prompted a surge of the virus across countries in Asia and Europe, forcing China to undergo a strict lockdown in two years. Experts fear that the variant can cause a new wave in the United States.
According to the World Health Organisation, BA.2 now represents 86 per cent of all sequenced variants, making it more transmissible than the BA.1 and BA.1.1 strains.
Like the original variant, this BA.2 sub-variant is also believed to have the ability to escape immunity from vaccines and from some antibody treatments.
However, according to UK Health Security Agency data, protection is restored by a booster jab, particularly for preventing hospitalisation and death.
BA.2 has been named the ‘stealth’ virus as it is more difficult to track the virus, in comparison with the other two variants. According to a report by Reuters, a missing gene in BA.1 allowed it to be tracked by default through a common PCR test. BA.2 and another sibling, BA.3, which is also increasing in prevalence but is currently at low levels, can only be found by genomic sequencing, of which some countries do more than others.
Scientists believe that the sudden surge in cases and the global uptick of the variant happened at the same time when countries started lifting the lockdown restrictions and public health interventions. However, a rise still predicts that the virus still causes harm, particularly among unvaccinated, under-vaccinated and vulnerable populations.
A BBC analysis noted that if you have been infected with BA.1, then you would also have some degree of protection against BA.2.
Moreover, BA.2 is for the scientists to watch rather than for the public to be alarmed, concludes the analysis.