KOMPAS.com - A new subtype of the omicron coronavirus variant is spreading in Denmark, the UK, India, Sweden, and many other countries. The exact impact of the genome mutations is still unclear.
We already know from the first omicron variant BA.1 that it is significantly more contagious than earlier coronavirus variants. Now a subtype, BA.2, has emerged. At least 400 people have been infected with it during the first 10 days of January in the United Kingdom, and it has already been detected in more than 40 other countries worldwide.
Most detections in Denmark
The PANGO directory of coronaviruses, which is regularly updated by scientists from the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, and Cambridge, lists Denmark as the most affected area, with 79 percent of the cases detected so far.
It is followed by the UK (6 percent), India (5 percent), Sweden (2 percent), and Singapore (2 percent). However, it should be noted that detection of the subtype depends on the ability of individual health care systems to sequence PCR tests.
The danger posed by omicron BA.2 is still unknown
The rapid spread of the new subtype suggests it could be even more contagious than the original omicron variant. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has classified BA.2 as a "variant under surveillance."
A graph with the names of various coronavirus variants and where they first appeared
"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," said Meera Chand, incident director at UKHSA. "Our continued genomic surveillance allows us to detect them and assess whether they are significant."
For subtype BA.2, that analysis is still underway.