Omicron slowing down but WHO tracking several sub-lineages: Official

‘We have BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3. It’s really quite incredible how Omicron, the latest variant of concern, has overtaken Delta around the world,’ says Van Kerkhove

Omicron wave
BA.1 and BA.2 are sub-variants of Omicron. The WHO had earlier said that while BA.2 was more transmissible of the two, there was no difference in severity

The Omicron variant is slowing down and many countries are removing the strict restrictions put in place to check the spread of the infection. But a World Health Organization (WHO) official has raised fresh concerns related to an Omicron sub-strain.

The virus is evolving and Omicron has several sub-lineages that the global body is tracking, Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead at the WHO, said on Thursday. 

“We have BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3. It’s really quite incredible how Omicron, the latest variant of concern, has overtaken Delta around the world,” Van Kerkhove said.

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“Most of the sequences are this sub-lineage BA.1. We are also seeing an increasing in proportion of sequences of BA.2,” she said. 

In a tweet accompanying the video, the WHO said that almost 75,000 deaths from COVID-19 were reported last week.

“BA.2 is more transmissible” than others but there is no evidence it is more lethal than BA.1, the official said.

The official added that Omicron is not mild but less severe than Delta. “We are still seeing significant numbers of hospitalisations of Omicron. We are seeing significant numbers of deaths. It is not the common cold, it is not influenza. We just have to be really careful right now,” Van Kerkhove said.

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