Omicron BA.2 more transmissible but not more severe than BA.1 -WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says while the BA.2 of the Omicron variant sub lineage is more transmissible, it is not more severe than BA.1 .

READ ALSO: Omicron BA.2 sublineage remains variant of concern -WHO

The Technical lead for COVID-19 and an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Organisation, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove disclosed this during an interview session tagged ‘Science in 5’ posted on WHO’s website.

Kerkhove also said that it has been established that the Omicron is less severe when compared to Delta.

Now, we do know that Omicron is less severe compared to Delta, the other variant of concern that was circulating. But Omicron has now replaced Delta worldwide and it is not more. BA.2 is not more severe than BA.1, as I mentioned.

“But we’re also looking at antivirals, we’re looking at vaccines. And again, our vaccines remain incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against both of the sub lineages of BA.1 and BA.2,” she said

Kerkhove noted that it’s important to enhance surveillance systems as countries are facing many challenges and other diseases.

She said, “But it is fundamental to the control strategy of COVID-19. Not only do we need to improve vaccine access, as you hear us talk about a lot, we also need to maintain public health services like surveillance and testing and sequencing.

“And this is critical for us to be able to determine how this virus is changing and importantly, what that means for us in terms of our counter-measures, looking at public health and social measures, looking at the use of antivirals and looking at different therapeutics, as well as ensuring that the COVID-19 vaccines remain effective. And I just want to highlight that the COVID 19 vaccines remain incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the latest variant of concern, Omicron.

“And so keeping up with surveillance, keeping up with testing and making sure that we have good tracking of this virus in at risk populations, people who are over the age of 60, people with underlying conditions, immunocompromised patients, to ensure that we are really understanding how the virus is spreading, where the virus is spreading is really critical.

“And to maintain that on the ground in the third year is quite difficult. But it is fundamental to the control strategy of COVID-19. Not only do we need to improve vaccine access, as you hear us talk about a lot, we also need to maintain public health services like surveillance and testing and sequencing.

“And this is critical for us to be able to determine how this virus is changing and importantly, what that means for us in terms of our counter-measures, looking at public health and social measures, looking at the use of antivirals and looking at different therapeutics, as well as ensuring that the COVID-19 vaccines remain effective. And I just want to highlight that the COVID 19 vaccines remain incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the latest variant of concern, Omicron,” she stated.

The epidemiologist said WHO is working with surveillance officers, public health officers and experts around the world to track the virus.

We work with our technical advisory group for virus evolution to assess each of the variants and the mutations that are being detected,” Kerkhove added.

 

MTO/Punch

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