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What is Omicron sub-variant BA.2?

What is Omicron sub-variant BA.2?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced on Monday that the first case of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1 had been detected in Pakistan. 

The development comes as Pakistan is witnessing a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases which have dropped significantly during the past few weeks.

BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 29 per cent of new US Covid-19 infections in April’s third week, according to data reported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. And it caused 58pc of reported infections in the New York region.

What is Omicron sub-variant?

In the first months of 2022, experts turned their focus to Omicron BA.2 – a genetically distinct subvariant of Omicron (or BA.1) – which soon became the predominant variant in the United States.

By April they had started watching subvariants that were branching out from BA.2. These have included BA.4 and BA.5, which are not multiplying in the U.S. at this time. But another sub-variant, BA.2.12.1, already accounts for 29% of new cases here.

Scientists are still investigating whether the newest variants are more contagious or dangerous than their predecessors. The good news is that, so far, BA.2.12.1 does not appear to cause severe illness and death.

What are its symptoms and how to protect?

Doctors are still studying the variant to determine its exact symptoms, but some cases of the sub-variant suggest that it also has flu-like symptoms, similar to the Omicron variant. Therefore, those infected could experience sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and dizziness.

For some people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple weeks. For others, it may cause no symptoms at all. The virus can lead to more severe illness, including pneumonia and death, for some.

When it comes to those who’ve been vaccinated and boosted, the cold-like symptoms experienced following an omicron infection are mostly the same regardless of the subvariant.

In a press conference, the US CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said that those who are vaccinated and especially those who are boosted, continue to have strong protection against severe disease, even from BA.2.12.1.

Are there any other variants of concern?

Other mutations of the coronavirus, identified by scientists in South Africa are BA.4 and BA.5.

Besides South Africa, the sub-variants have also been detected in several other countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Israel, Denmark, France, Germany, the UK, US and Switzerland.

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