Scientists have new evidence that the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron coronavirus variant may be more severe compared to previous strains.
What they found: New lab experiments in Japan found that BA.2 has a number of features that can make it capable of causing severe COVID-19 symptoms on the same level as previous strains.
- The research — published before peer review on the bioRxiv server — found that BA.2 can resist COVID-19 vaccines and some treatments, such as the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab.
What they’re saying: “It might be, from a human’s perspective, a worse virus than BA.1 and might be able to transmit better and cause worse disease,” said Dr. Daniel Rhoads, section head of microbiology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, according to CNN.
Why it matters: Kei Sato, a researcher at the University of Tokyo who led the study, told CNN that this suggests that the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron should be considered the same COVID-19 strain as omicron.
- “It looks like we might be looking at a new Greek letter here,” said Deborah Fuller, a virologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, according to CNN.
The bigger picture: The omicron variant’s subvariant BA.2 has been spreading since February, slowly replacing the original strain of the omicron variant as the most dominant COVID-19 strain in the world, as I reported for the Deseret News.