Health

‘Stealth Omicron’ variant spreading in UK and Scandinavia



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ore than 400 cases of the new BA.2 variant nicknamed “stealth Omicron” have been identified in the UK, according to latest figures.

Some 426 cases of the BA.2 variant have been confirmed in the UK to date, with the earliest dated December 6.

The largest number of confirmed cases was in London, with 146 positive BA.2 infections followed by the south-east region with 97.

More than 8,000 cases of BA.2 have been identified in 40 countries worldwide.

Denmark has seen 6,411 confirmed cases of “stealth Omicron”.

India has seen 530, Sweden 181 and Singapore 127 positive infections from BA.2.

At this point it is not possible to determine where the sublineage may have originated, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Dr Meera Chand, Covid-19 Incident Director at UKHSA, said: “It is the nature of viruses to evolve and mutate, so it’s to be expected that we will continue to see new variants emerge as the pandemic goes on.

“So far, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether BA.2 causes more severe illness than Omicron BA.1, but data is limited and UKHSA continues to investigate.”

Public health bosses announced they were investigating the new variant of Covid-19, nicknamed “stealth Omicron” earlier this month.

Earlier this month on January 10, the UKHSA regarded BA.2 as a “variant under investigation” which is one below a “variant of concern”.

Scientists have been speaking out on the topic.

Virologist Tom Peacock of Imperial College London tweeted: “Very early observations from India and Denmark suggest there is no dramatic difference in severity compared to BA.1. This data should become more solid (one way or another) in the coming weeks.”

Mr Peacock added: “There is likely to be minimal differences in vaccine effectiveness against BA.1 and BA.2. Personally, I’m not sure BA.2 is going to have a substantial impact on the current Omicron wave of the pandemic.



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