BA.2 Omicron variant
The current rise in cases and hospitalisations across much of the western world is mainly being driven by the BA.2 variant of omicron first seen in Denmark.
There's lots of misinformation about BA.2 on social media, so it’s important to know that BA.2 isn’t new and it isn’t a ‘stealth’ variant.
BA.2 has been known about since last November when the Omicron variant was discovered and found to exist as three genetically distinct varieties.
The one that took off most quickly was BA.1, and having run its course, the more transmittable BA.2 is on the rise. It currently accounts for over 50% of cases and is driving most of the recent upturn.
The good news is that analysis by UKHSA has shown that we shouldn’t be unduly worried – for two reasons:
- BA.2 infection is no more severe than BA.1 and is no more likely to result in hospitalisation
- The current vaccines (specifically boosters) are just as effective against BA.2 as against the original BA.1 strain
So while resurgence is never good news, at the end of the day BA.2 is Omicron, just as BA.1 was, and so will behave similarly in terms of severity.
And because our immune systems have already been exposed to Omicron, it is likely to peak at a smaller number of cases overall – and far below the death tolls associated with the pre-vaccine peaks.