According to Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Translation Research Institute, the United States is likely to see an increase in cases caused by descendants of Omicron BA.2 starting in the next few weeks. “It’s inevitable that we’ll see a wave of BA.2 here,” he told a Detroit FOX 2 report.
One reason for this is due to the reduction in COVID-19 cases and the increase in restrictions related to the pandemic, reports FOX 2 Detroit, as well as the cessation of wearing masks and returning to indoor.
As part of its ongoing work on tracking options, the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) met last month to discuss the latest data on the Omicron variant of concern, including its BA.1 and BA.2 sub-lines.
BA.2 differs from BA.1 in its genetic sequence, including some differences in amino acids in thorn protein and other proteins. Studies have shown that BA.2 has a growth advantage over BA.1. Research is ongoing to understand the reasons for this growth advantage, but initial evidence suggests that BA.2 is inherently more transmissible than BA.1, which currently remains the most common Omicron subline. This difference in throughput seems to be much smaller than, for example, the difference between BA.1 and Delta. In addition, although BA.2 sequences increase proportionally compared to other Omicron sublinks (BA.1 and BA.1.1), a decrease in the total number of cases worldwide is still reported.
Studies evaluate the risk of re-infection with BA.2 compared to BA.1. Re-infection of BA.2 after BA.1 infection has been documented, but initial data from population-based reinfection studies suggest that BA.1 infection provides strong protection against BA.2 re-infection for at least a limited period of time. whose data is available.
Reaching the above definition, TAG-VE also reviewed preliminary laboratory data from Japan obtained using animal models immune to SARS-CoV-2, which highlighted that BA.2 can cause more severe disease in hamsters compared to BA.1. They also looked at real clinical severity data from South Africa, the UK and Denmark, where immunity from vaccination or natural infection is high: there were no reports of a difference in severity between BA.2 and BA.1.
WHO will continue to closely monitor the BA.2 line as part of Omicron and asks countries to continue to be vigilant, monitor and report on sequences, and conduct independent and comparative analysis of the various Omicron sub-lines.
TAG-VE holds regular meetings and continues to discuss available data on transmission and severity of options, as well as their impact on diagnosis, treatment, and vaccines.
Dr Anthony Foci, the U.S. government’s chief specialist on infectious diseases, recently told ABC that he also thinks the U.S. will face a “rise” similar to what is happening in Europe, where BA.2 is the predominant strain. He added that he did not think there would be a “surge”. In the UK, “there was the same situation as we have now,” Foci said. “In their BA.2. They alleviate some restrictions, such as indoor camouflage, and reduced immunity to vaccines and past infections.