Explained: What to know about Omicron's subvariant BA.2.12.1 that driving a new COVID-19 wave
BA.2 infections aren't as mild as once thought and even newer versions of Omicron are circulating and spreading fast
Omicron's latest subvariant BA.2.12.1, is spreading rapidly and overtaking the BA.2 Omicron subvariant. The latest variant is also responsible for about one-fourth of Covid-19 cases in the US, that shows the virus is not showing any signs of decline even over two years after it was first detected in humans.
BA.2.12.1 is a descendant of the BA.2 virus. Little is known about the new subvariant, however, it appears to be highly transmissible, much like its ancestors.
BA.2.12.1 is another offspring of omicron, has also been detected in Australia and New Zealand.
According to virologists, although the SARS-CoV-2 virus has repeatedly changed its structure and chemistry, it still has abundant evolutionary space to explore, Washington Post reported.
Other mutations include BA.4 and BA.5, recently identified by scientists in South Africa. It has led to a fresh wave of Covid in the country.
Besides South Africa, the sub variants have also been detected in more than 20 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Israel, Denmark, France, Germany, Pakistan, UK, US and Switzerland.
The BA.2 seem to largely mirror a small number of symptoms commonly reported in omicron infections. Those include:
- Runny Nose
According to research, three mRNA vaccine doses, effectiveness against Omicron-related hospitalization dropped from 85% to 55% after three months. The researchers concluded that additional booster vaccines might thus be necessary to remain protected against infections with Omicron subvariants.
However, it is not clear why these variants did not dominate the Indian population during the last Omicron wave despite having higher growth advantage than the parent BA.2 variant.