IZMIR, Turkiye

A new version of the coronavirus omicron strain detected in parts of Asia and Europe is spreading much faster than the original variant, a member of Turkiye’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board has warned.

The BA.2 sub-variant can cause a more rapid increase in number of infections as its transmission rate is higher than the BA.1 version, Dr. Alper Sener said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

He said there was evidence that BA.2 has been gaining ground in countries such as India and Denmark over recent weeks.

“BA.2 is becoming the new dominant strain in many countries. It has already outpaced BA.1 in Denmark in the past 10 days,” Sener said.

However, the new omicron version has not yet been found in Turkiye, he added.

The World Health Organization recently wrote on its website that “the BA.2 descendent lineage, which differs from BA.1 in some of the mutations, including in the spike protein, is increasing in many countries.”

“Investigations into the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence, should be prioritized independently (and comparatively) to BA.1,” the global health agency said.

Sener explained that BA.2 is detectable with PCR tests and has “not caused an increase in hospitalization and death rates so far.”

However, he pointed out that BA.2 could be more resistant to existing vaccines, adding that understanding its characteristics will help “accelerate ongoing scientific efforts to update COVID-19 vaccines.”

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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