UK classifies new form of Omicron as “variant under investigation”

UK classifies new form of Omicron as "variant under investigation"

LONDON, January 21 (Xinhua) – A new form of Omicron named BA.2 has been named a “variant under investigation”, with 426 cases of the Omicron variant subline confirmed in the UK, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA ) said on Friday.

“Overall, the original Omicron line, BA.1, is dominant in the UK and the proportion of BA.2 cases is currently low,” with the earliest dated December 6, 2021, the agency said in a statement.

A total of 40 countries have uploaded 8,040 BA.2 sequences to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) since 17 November. At present, it is not possible to determine where the underline may have originated, it added.

The first sequences were submitted from the Philippines, and most samples have been uploaded from Denmark (6,411), while other countries that have uploaded more than 100 samples are India (530), Sweden (181) and Singapore (127), according to the agency.

Meera Chand, incident director at the agency, said new mutations are “expected” as the pandemic continues. “So far, there is not enough evidence to determine whether BA.2 causes more serious illness than Omicron BA.1, but data are limited and the UKHSA continues to investigate.”

Official figures on Friday showed that the UK has added 95,787 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 15,709,059 and 288 more deaths, bringing the national death toll to 153,490.

More than 90 per cent of people aged 12 and up in the UK have received their first dose of vaccine, more than 83 per cent have taken both shots and more than 63 per cent have received booster jobs.


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