London/New Delhi | Jagran World Desk: The UK Health Security Agency designated a sub-lineage of Omicron variant of COVID-19, known as BA.2 as variant under investigation. The top Health body of the UK said that the original Omicron lineage BA.1 is dominant and the proportion of BA.2 cases remains low.

“The designation was made on the basis of increasing numbers of BA.2 sequences identified both domestically and internationally. There is still uncertainty around the significance of the changes to the viral genome, and further analyses will now be undertaken,” the UK Health Security Agency said in an official statement. Since December 6, 2021, the UK has identified 426 cases of Omicron BA.2 with Whole Genome Sequencing process.

Omicron BA.2 sub-lineage identified in 40 countries, 530 samples from India

According to UK Health Security Agency, so far a total of 40 countries have uploaded 8,040 BA.2 sequences on GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) database. The Health Agency added that though ‘it is not possible’ to determine where the Omicron BA.2 may have originated, the first sequence was submitted from Philippines. Most samples were from Denmark (6,411). Other countries with over 100 samples of Omicron BA.2 are India (530), Sweden (181) and Singapore (127).

“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. Our continued genomic surveillance allows us to detect them and assess whether they are significant,” Dr Meera Chand, COVID-19 Incident Director at UKHSA said in an official statement.

Dr Meera Chand added that so far there is insufficient evidence to determine if BA.2 causes more severe illness than the BA.1, the original Omicron variant currently in transmission in most of the world.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma