WHO confirms BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants behind South Africa COVID case surge but too early to know more

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The World Health Organization said Wednesday that two new subvariants of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are behind a spike in cases in South Africa, but there’s too little data yet to know if they are more lethal than other variants. The two, dubbed BA.4 and BA.5, ” have acquired a few additional mutations that may impact their characteristics,” the agency said in its weekly epidemiological update. Limited evidence to date, does not indicate a rise in hospital admissions or other signs of increased severity. “Preliminary data from South Africa using S gene target failure data (absent in BA.2, present in BA.4 and BA.5) indicate no difference in the risk of hospitalization for BA.4 and BA.5, as compared to BA.1; however, the short follow-up of BA.4 and BA.5 cases does not allow for conclusions on disease severity of these sublineages to be drawn at this stage,” said the agency. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that vaccines appear to remain the best protection against severe disease and death, AFP reported.

Source: Marketwatch

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