The World Health Organization tracks the omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 as they spread across Africa and Europe

Omicron sub variants BA.4 and BA.5 circulate at low levels in several countries within Southern Africa and Europe, according to the World Health Organization.

The two variants of the highly contagious Covid-19 strain have been detected in Botswana, South Africa, Germany and Denmark, among other countries, WHO technical lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said Thursday.

She added that BA.4 and BA.5 do not appear to be more contagious or fatal than the original omicron mutation yet, but that this may change as more cases are discovered. Van Kerkhove emphasized the need to maintain “robust” genome surveillance systems that would allow countries to track and analyze the two subvariants in addition to previous versions of the omicron.

“It’s still early days,” Van Kerkhove said during a WHO press conference. “What we have to make sure is that we still have the ability to trace, ability to share, ability to analyze so that we can answer questions like this.” broadcast live on the organization’s social media platforms.

Her statements come days after the World Health Organization She said she was tracing a few dozen cases from BA.4 and BA.5, as well as earlier omicron variants such as BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, and BA.1.1.

A new wave of issues

It also comes as the more contagious BA.2 variant has advanced across several parts of the world, leading to a new wave of Covid cases following the unprecedented spike caused by the original omicron variant, BA.1, during the winter. The BA.2 strain is the world’s dominant strain. In the United States, make-up About 85% of new serial cases It is most prevalent in the northeastern region of the country where it accounts for about 92% of newly serial cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The oldest BA.4 sample was collected in South Africa on January 10, but the data show that the ‘genome accumulation’ and geographic spread of the sub-variant is recent, according to Report From the UK Health Security Agency released last week. As of April 8, South Africa has reported 41 cases of BA.4, Denmark has reported three, Botswana has reported two, and England and Scotland have reported one each.

“Although the total number of genomes is small, the clear geographic spread indicates that the variant is successfully transmitted,” the Department of Health said in a report.

The report also stated that 27 BA.5 sequences were reported as of 8 April, all reported in South Africa between 25 February and 25 March. But Botswana’s Ministry of Health on Monday said it had received specified Both BA.4 and BA.5 among fully vaccinated individuals aged 30 to 50 years, Reuters reported.

The World Health Organization began tracking BA.4 and BA.5 because they both have new mutations that “need further study to understand their impact on immune escape potential,” according to Reuters.

Both variants have additional mutations in the spike region, which is the part of the virus used to invade human cells, and unique mutations outside that region, according to the World Health Organization. Report Posted Wednesday. Such mutations are linked to “potential immune escape properties,” the report said.

XE variant

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