It was only a matter of time — scientists have reportedly found a subvariant of the omicron variant, raising questions about what’s going to happen next with the novel coronavirus.
The news: Scientists across the world have found a sublineage of the highly-transmissible omicron coronavirus variant, called BA.2.
- The BA.2 variant is now under investigation because it could have a growth advantage, replacing the original omicron variant, per Reuters.
Why this matters: The subvariant BA.2, which has been nicknamed the “stealth omicron,” could be spreading faster than the original omicron and lead to even more COVID-19 cases, according to Fortune.
Details: Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said he is “concerned” about the new subtype because it is surging.
- Cases of omicron subvariant are doubling about every four days, he tweeted. The delta variant cases doubled every 1.5 to three days.
- That said, omicron cases doubled quicker than every four days. But “BA2 displacing Omicron BA1 is a really bad sign,” Feigl-Ding said.
Around the world: Denmark’s number of subvariant cases recently surpassed the original omicron variant, Feigl-Ding said.
- The United Kingdom is on pace to see the same situation.
- Germany is seeing a rise on the B.A.2 subvariant as well, but it is still early to see how much it will impact numbers,
Yes, but: “Initial analysis shows no differences in hospitalizations for BA.2 compared to BA.1,” said Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut, a government-funded infectious disease research center, in a statement. “It is expected that vaccines also have an effect against severe illness upon BA.2 infection.”
One last note: The BA.2 variant could be considered its own variant since it has a number of mutations, much like the omicron variant, according to Shay Fleishon, a researcher affiliated with the Israeli government’s Central Virology Laboratory.
- “I think the responsible thing to do is to relate to BA.2 as a completely different variant, outcompeting BA.1,” Fleishon wrote on Twitter. “Oh and if someone in the WHO is here — The letter Pi is still waiting. Just saying.”