Covid warning: New highly transmissible Omicron sub-variant in UK – 53 cases found

The UK Health Security Agency on Friday stated it was increasingly confident that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was less severe for adults, as it published its updated briefing on the variant. The UKHSA said: “There is now high confidence that the Omicron variant causes low severity of disease in adults.” 

It also warned that there were 53 sequences of a sub-lineage of Omicron, BA.2, which does not have a specific mutation that allows it to be easily distinguishable from Delta, adding it would monitor it closely.

This comes as Israel detected about 20 cases of the new subvariant during genetic sequencing of Covid patients.

This variant contains more mutations than Omicron and, according to the Business Standard, it may be more violent. 

Even though scientists are concerned about the new sub-variant, little is known about the dangers it poses. 

According to Israel’s Health Ministry, there was no evidence that BA.2 behaved differently than Omicron, Jerusalem Post reported.

The BA.2 was first detected in China a few weeks ago, however, experts suspect that the mutation originated in India.

State media Kan reported that the sub-variant has also been observed in Denmark, Australia, Canada and Singapore. 

According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant (parent Pango lineage B.1.1.529) includes three descendent sub-lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3).

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While BA.1 and BA.3 have the 69-70 deletion in the spike protein, BA.2 does not.

In India, scientists at the country’s Department of Biotechnology’s SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) recently noted the significant presence of both BA.1 and BA.2 in genome tests conducted in the country.

The UK has reported 99,652 cases on Friday so far, which is down from 109,133 cases on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the UK has also recorded 270 deaths on Friday, which is significantly lower than the 335 deaths being reported on Thursday.

Scientists discover new variants and sub-variants of the coronavirus all the time, however, it does not necessarily mean that these versions will be as deadly as other variants of concern like Delta or Alpha. 

This is a breaking story. More to follow.