Friday, May 20, 2022

Omicron subvariant BA.2 reported in Canada: PHAC

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it has detected more than 50 cases of a new Omicron subvariant called BA.2.

In a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca on Wednesday, PHAC confirmed that 51 cases of the BA.2 subvariant in Canada have been reported primarily from international travelers.

According to global coronavirus data sharing platform GISAID, BA.2 is a descendant of the highly permeable Omicron variant and has been detected in at least 40 countries as of Wednesday.

PHAC said it is monitoring BA.2, as it does with all new COVID-19 variants, and is ensuring Canadians continue to follow the advice of public health officials.

“While monitoring of the impact of all variants continues in Canada, the Government of Canada recognizes that vaccination, in combination with public health and individualized measures, is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants,” PHAC said.

BA.2 was first detected in November 2021 and the UK on Friday named it as a “version under investigation”, saying it could have development benefits.

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While the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet labeled BA.2 a “type of concern”, it is tracking the spread of the sub-lineage.

The Omicron version, b.1.1.529, has four sub-lineages: ba.1, ba.1.1, ba.2 and ba.3.

The BA.2 sub-lineage is widely considered to be “stealth” compared to the original version of Omicron because some of its genetic traits are harder to trace. Some scientists say it may also be more contagious, however, they acknowledge that there is still a lot of unknowns about the subvariant.

PHAC stated that BA.2 has “many similarities” with BA.1, but exhibits some differences, including mutations that can affect transmissibility, detection and possibly immune evasion.

PHAC said in the statement, “There is currently very limited evidence to determine how influential the difference between BA.1 and BA.2 may be, so monitoring of cases in Canada and developments internationally by PHAC scientists has been encouraged.” Ongoing efforts to track down.”

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Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said a “significant degree of uncertainty” remains around BA.2, but the subvariant is worth tracking as more cases are reported around the world.

“We have a lot of BA.1 for example in Canada, we have BA.2 as well. Interestingly, in other jurisdictions, we are seeing an increase of BA.2 while BA.1 may be on the downside. It is,” Bogoch told CTV news channel on Wednesday. “Again, something to keep in mind for now.”

Despite this, Bogoch said Canadians should not be worried. He added that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against BA.2 will likely be “very similar” to that of the BA.1 sub-lineage.

“it’s not the same [as BA.1]it’s probably a little more permeable, but there are probably many other similarities,” Bogoch said.

“I think it is too early to know how this manifests and we need to learn more,” he said.

With files from The Associated Press

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Nation World News Desk
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