WHO Analysing Two New Omicron COVID Sub-variants
The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it will track dozens of cases of two new subvariants of the highly contagious strain of coronavirus, Omicron, to assess whether they are more contagious or more dangerous.
It has added BA.4 and BA.5, sister variants of the original BA.1 Omicron variant, to its list for monitoring. It has already started tracking BA.1 and BA.2 along with BA.1.1 and BA.3.
WHO said it has started tracking "additional mutations that require further study to understand its impact on the potential for antigenic escape."
The virus always mutates, but only some mutations affect the ability to spread or evade previous immunity from vaccination or infection, or the severity of the disease caused by the virus.
The UK Health Security Agency said last week that BA.4 was found in South Africa, Denmark, Botswana, Scotland and the United Kingdom from January 10th to March 30th.
All BA.5 cases occurred in South Africa last week, but on Monday the Ministry of Health in Botswana announced that it had identified four cases, BA.4 and BA.5, among people aged 30 to 50 who were also fully vaccinated and experiencing mild symptoms.