Suara.com – The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had traced several sublineages of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, such as BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, and BA.3.
WHO is also looking at empirical data on whether, experimentally in hamsters, this Omicron subvariant can cause more severe infections.
WHO infectious disease expert Maria Van Kerkhove also emphasized that Omicron is a variant of concern.
“We tracked several Omicron sublineages. The most prominent ones detected worldwide were BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2. There are also BA.3 and other derivatives as well,” explains Van Kherkove.
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Van Kherkove alludes to studies in Japan that came out as preprints.
“What they’re seeing is, whether experimentally in hamsters, there are signals that cause more severe disease in these experimental conditions.”
Recently, a Japanese laboratory study showed that the Omicron BA.2 subvariant can cause more severe infections than BA.1.
According to page Live Minthere are some important things the Japanese study says about the Omicron BA.2:
- BA.2 has features that make it capable of causing serious illness in hamsters. This variant is also resistant to treatment, such as monoclonal antibodies.
- Although BA.2 is considered an Omicron variant, its genomic sequence is very different from BA.1.
“This indicates that the virological characteristics of BA.2 are different from those of BA.1,” write the investigators.
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However, the WHO later clarified that BA.2 has indeed been shown to cause severe disease in hamsters, but that human studies have shown that the severity of the two subvariants is the same, he said.