Lab studies point to signs of severity in Omicron subvariant

By WBOK Staff

Friday, February 18, 2022

(CNN)The BA.2 virus -- a subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant -- isn't just spreading faster than its distant cousin, it may also cause more severe disease and appears capable of thwarting some of the key weapons we have against Covid-19, new research suggests.
New lab experiments from Japan show that BA.2 may have features that make it as capable of causing serious illness as older variants of Covid-19, including Delta.

And like Omicron, it appears to largely escape the immunity created by vaccines. A booster shot restores protection, making illness after infection about 74% less likely.BA.2 is also resistant to some treatments, including sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody that's currently being used against Omicron.

"As you may know, BA.2 is called 'stealth Omicron,' " Sato told CNN. That's because it doesn't show up on PCR tests as an S-gene target failure, the way Omicron does. Labs therefore have to take an extra step and sequence the virus to find this variant.
"Establishing a method to detect BA.2 specifically would be the first thing" many countries need to do, he says.
"It looks like we might be looking at a new Greek letter here," agreed Deborah Fuller, a virologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who reviewed the study but was not part of the research.




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