Suara.com – Indonesia has not yet stopped being hit by the omicron variant, now a new mutation has been reported, known as the stealth omicron or also the ‘Son of Omicron’.
The stealth Omicron, also known as the BA.2 subvariant – can cause more severe disease than the original version, according to a new study.
A new laboratory experiment in Japan found BA.2 may also be better able to escape the immunity provided by vaccination. Scientists at the University of Tokyo conducted animal studies and the studies have not been peer-reviewed – so their quality and validity have not been independently assessed.
However, this suggests that BA.2 “pathogenicity” is higher than that of Omicron and is more resistant to immunity from previous vaccination or infection. This is as quoted from the Evening Standard.
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BA.2 has spread rapidly in Denmark and South Africa in recent weeks – although there has been no substantial increase in hospitalizations. The study found the severity of BA.2 was “similar to ancestral B.1.1” – otherwise known as Alpha variant which caused a significant wave of infections in the UK in December 2020.
The study authors wrote: “In summary, our data suggest it is likely that BA.2 will be the variant of most concern for global health. Currently, BA.2 and BA.1 are recognized together as Omicron and these are almost indistinguishable.
“Based on our findings, we propose that BA.2 should be recognized as a unique variant of concern, and this SARS-CoV-2 variant should be closely monitored.”
For their study, the researchers infected hamsters with the original Omicron variant and its subvariants. They found those infected with BA.2 to be worse off.
Kei Sato, a researcher at the University of Tokyo who conducted the study, told CNN that subvariants should be examined independently of Omicron.
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He said countries need to establish specific methods for detecting BA.2 because of its ability to evade detection in PCR assays.