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11th Apr 2022

WHO confirms two new Omicron sub-variants are under investigation

Charlie Herbert

Omicron sub-variants added to WHO list

One of the sub-variants has already been detected in Scotland and England

The World Health Organisation is investigating two new Omicron sub-variants to work out whether they are more serious than their predecessor.

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants have been added to the WHO’s monitoring list, with BA.4 having already been detected once in both Scotland and England.

Last week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published a report in which it said there were “potentially biologically significant mutations” in the two variants.

So far, only a few dozen cases of the two variants have been recorded.

But the WHO said it was tracking the two sub-variants because they have “additional mutations that need to be further studied to understand their impact on immune escape potential.”

BA.4 was first detected in South Africa in January, but has now been detected in Botswana and Denmark along with here in the UK, suggesting that it is “transmitting successfully” according to the UKHSA.

Currently, the BA.2 variant is the dominant strain in the UK, accounting for an estimated 93.7 per cent of cases in England.

The government has rebuffed calls to introduce some covid regulations after being accused of abandoning “any interest in covid whatsoever’ by the NHS Confederation.

It’s as infection numbers have reached record levels in recent weeks.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “There is no change to our guidance and our living with Covid plan still stands.

“Thanks to a combination of vaccination and treatment and our better understanding of the virus we are now able to manage it as we do with other respiratory infections, so that remains the case with our approach.

“But obviously we continue to monitor any changes in the behaviour of the virus.”

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