The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a Covid warning as 426 cases of a new ‘stealth’ Omicron sub-variant were found in the UK
The new sub-variant of covid called the BA.2 strain was formally classified as a ‘variant under investigation’ by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on January 22
At least 40 countries have detected this omicron sub-lineage since November last year.
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According to the Evening Standard: Here is what we know so far:
How many cases are in the UK?
On January 21, there were 426 cases of the variant across the country, the UKHSA reported.
While cases remain low the variant, which is a sub-strain of Omicron, may be more transmissible according to some early studies.
The first cases in the UK were reported on December 6, with London so far recording 146 and the South East, 97.
Has the variant been reported elsewhere?
Danish authorities have also reported the new strain, claiming it may account for up to 45 percent of all cases in Denmark, the country’s Statens Serum Institut said.
Danish media outlets have also nicknamed the strain, “stealth Omicron”.
The first cases were reported in the Philippines but have also been reported in India, Sweden and Singapore.
Is it worse than Omicron?
The new strain comes up as a being S-gene positive under PCR tests, while Omicron does not.
As Omicron lacked the S-gene, it made it much easier to detect as it spread across the country and BA.2 is harder to distinguish from other variants.
While there are fears the variant may be more transmissible, there is not enough data at this stage.
As it stands, health experts claim there is little difference in vaccine effectiveness between BA.2 and Omicron.