Scientists around the world are paying close attention to the development of a new subvariant from the Omicron variant of concern, officially named BA.2. Cases from this subvariant have increased in several countries around the world, with 9 BA.2 cases detected in Thailand so far.
The Omicron BA.2 subtype of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is now gaining attention from the scientific community around the world, as it has the potential to replace the original Omicron variant as the dominant strain in the next phase of the pandemic.
So far, around 8,400 cases of COVID-19 around the world have been identified as BA.2 infections, with this new subvariant nicknamed the stealth variant, as it is more difficult to discern this subvariant from others using the PCR method.
Despite the growing number of cases, there is still insufficient data to suggest whether this subvariant would be more transmissible than Omicron.
Nine cases of BA.2 infections have so far been discovered in Thailand, with the first case reported on 2 January.
Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) Director-General Dr. Supakit Sirilak said the BA.2 subtype differs from the BA.1 and BA.3 sublineages of Omicron due to the lack of spike deletions 69-70, which are mutations on the virus’ spike protein.
Dr. Supakit said the DMS will continue monitoring the development of these three subvariants, while data from current monitoring shows no difference between BA.1 and BA.2 subtypes in terms of transmissibility, disease severity, and immune escape. (NNT)