BA.2 omicron subvariant more contagious than other COVID-19 strain: Study
The omicron subvariant BA.2 is inherently more contagious and better at evading vaccines than any other COVID-19 strain, says a Danish study. This new subvariant is becoming dominant in Denmark. The study highlights that BA.2 spreads more easily across all groups irrespective of sex, age, household size and individual’s vaccination status.
According to WHO, the probability for BA.2 spreading within a household was 39% and 29% for BA.1, which is the original omicron strain that has been dominant across the world as of January 19. The study by a team of scientists affiliated with the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Health Ministry says BA.2 is more contagious among the vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“But the relative increase in susceptibility to infection was significantly greater in vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals. That indicates the subvariant is even better at escaping vaccine protection than BA.1, which was already significantly more contagious than any other COVID variant,” it said.
Researchers found that transmission rates among unvaccinated people were higher with BA.2 compared to BA.1. This suggests that unvaccinated people are carrying a higher viral load with BA.2. Fully vaccinated people are more likely to catch BA.2 than the previous strain, but they are less likely to spread it to others. Researchers believe that people who received a booster were less likely to transmit the virus than people who are fully vaccinated.
The study says that after a breakthrough infection, vaccination protects against further transmission. It noted that the higher susceptibility to infection and greater transmissibility of BA.2 will likely result in more extensive spread of the virus among unvaccinated kids in schools and day care. Scientists, however, said it is reassuring that COVID BA.2 infections are generally milder than delta variant infections. “Vaccines help protect against severe illnesses and hospitalizations. The combination of high incidence of a relative innocuous subvariant has raised optimism.”
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Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said BA.2 is currently circulating at a very low level in the United States. Global database of COVID variants shows that more than half of the states in the US have detected BA.2. There is a total of 194 confirmed cases in the US, so far. The CDC has stated that there is currently no evidence that the BA.2 lineage is more severe than the BA.1 lineage.
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