WHO: Omicron BA.2 sub variant now prevalent globally
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that Omicron sub variant BA.2 is the predominant COVID-19 variant driving infections around the world.
The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that “in the last 30 days, BA.2 has become the predominant variant, with 251 645 sequences reported.”
It added that it made up about 85.9 percent of cases reported to the WHO in the last month.
According to the WHO, among the major Omicron descendent lineages, “weekly trends show that the relative proportion of BA.2 has increased steadily since the end of 2021, with BA.2 becoming the dominant lineage by week seven of 2022.”
The report added that this trend is most pronounced in the Southeast Asia region, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean, African, Western Pacific and European Regions. The sub variant BA.2 is currently dominant in the Region of the Americas as well.
During the last update on March 8, the WHO said that BA.1.1 was the dominant sub variant and that BA.2 made up 34 percent of new cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Wednesday that the Omicron BA.2 sub variant of has shown increased transmission but there is no evidence of “severe disease.”
This comes as U.S. infections are at an eight-month low, but administration officials have warned that the new sub variant could cause an uptick in cases.
“I would not be surprised if, in the next few weeks, we do see an uptick in cases,” White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said last week. “The really important issue is that, will that be manifested in an increase in severe disease that would lead to hospitalization?”
New CDC data released Tuesday put BA.2 at about 35 percent of U.S. cases in the week ending on March 19 according to The Wall Street Journal. The variant accounts for more than 50 percent of cases in parts of Northeast, the report added.