- UKSHA has classified BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation
- ‘BA.2 has a slightly higher secondary attack rate than BA.1 in households’
- The cases of BA.2 have been reported in India, Denmark, UK and others
London: The BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is classed as a variant under investigation in the UK, spreads much faster than the original BA.1 strain but it also seems to show higher vaccine protection, health authorities said. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that BA.2 has an increased growth rate compared to BA.1 in all regions of England where there are enough cases to assess it. As of January 24, 1,072 genomically confirmed cases of BA.2 have been identified in England and all assessments remain preliminary whilst case numbers are relatively low.
While growth rates can be overestimated in early analyses of a new variant, the apparent growth advantage is currently substantial, the UKHSA said.
The experts said their analysis from routine contact tracing data indicates that transmission is likely to be higher among contacts of BA.2 cases in households at around 13.4 per cent than those for contacts of other Omicron cases at 10.3 per cent in the period between December 27, 2021, to January 11, 2022.
A linked preliminary assessment did not find evidence of a difference in vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease for BA.2 compared to BA.1. After two doses, vaccine effectiveness was 9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively for BA.1 and BA.2, after 25+ weeks. This increased to 63 per cent for BA.1 and 70 per cent for BA.2 at 2 weeks following a third vaccine.
We now know that BA.2 has an increased growth rate which can be seen in all regions in England. We have also learnt that BA.2 has a slightly higher secondary attack rate than BA.1 in households, said Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for UKHSA.
“Although hospitalisations and deaths remain low, cases are still high in some areas and some age groups so it’s important that we continue to act cautiously as restrictions are lifted,” she said.
In its latest update on Omicron data, the UKHSA notes that overall numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have decreased over time, but where data was available admissions with Omicron have increased from 9 per cent to more than 50 per cent in the most recent week.
It also found that although there was a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections among the elderly in care homes during December 2021 in line with case rises in the community, there has not been an associated increase in hospital admissions.
The UKHSA said its findings suggest the current wave of Omicron infections is unlikely to lead to a major surge in severe disease in care home populations with high levels of vaccine coverage and/or natural immunity.
The latest analysis comes at the end of a week where all parts of the UK began rolling back strict COVID-19 lockdown curbs, such as nightclub bans and work from home directives.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.