BA.2 Omicron sub-variant under global monitoring

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The development of a new sub-variant of the worrisome Omicron variant, officially named BA.2, is of great interest to scientists around the world. Reports of this sub-variant have increased in several countries around the world, with 9 cases of BA.2 detected in Thailand so far.

The Omicron BA.2 subtype of SARS-CoV-2 is now catching the attention of the world scientific community as it may replace the original Omicron variant as the dominant strain in the next phase of the pandemic.

Until now, around 8,400 cases of COVID-19 worldwide have been reported as infections with the BA.2 strain. This emerging sub-variant has been nicknamed the stealth variant, as it is more difficult to discern from others by PCR. Although the number of cases is increasing, there is still insufficient data to suggest whether this sub-variant is more transmissible than Omicron.

To date, nine cases of BA.2 infection have been detected in Thailand, with the first case reported on 2 January.

Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) director general Dr Supakit Sirilak said the BA.2 subtype differs from Omicron subtypes BA.1 and BA.3 because of the absence of deletions 69-70, which are mutations in the virus’ spike protein.

Dr Supakit reported that the DMS will keep monitoring the evolution of these three subvariants, while the current surveillance data shows that there is no difference between the BA.1 and BA.2 subtypes in terms of transmissibility, disease severity and immune escape.

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