The BA.2 COVID-19 variant — a sublineage of the omicron coronavirus variant — is still considered a variant of concern, according to the World Health Organization.

The news: The WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) ruled Tuesday that the BA.2 variant of the omicron variant should still be called a variant of concern, according to the United Nations News.

  • “They stressed that public health authorities should continue to monitor BA.2 as a distinct sublineage of Omicron, currently the dominant variant circulating globally,” United Nations News said.
  • “The experts explained that BA.2 differs from BA.1 in its genetic sequence, and that it has a growth advantage over this sublineage,” the report added.
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Why it matters: The BA.2 variant of the omicron variant is continuing to spread even as COVID-19 case numbers are dropping significantly.

  • Per Insider, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have dropped more than 90% since January, when the United States hit a pandemic peak.
  • “The fear is that spread may be on track to rapidly accelerate in the near future,” according to NPR.

The bigger picture: “The UN agency urged countries to remain vigilant, to monitor and report sequences, and to conduct independent and comparative analyses of the different Omicron sublineages,” according to the United Nations News.