The Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has driven most global increases since early 2022, is constantly mutating. While the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-varieties are common in Europe and America, a new sub-line from Omicron, BA.2.75, was discovered in India. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)this new underline has also been discovered in many other countries.
First reported from India and then from some other countries, this is the second time that a new variant or subvariant has been reported from our country. The Delta variant of the coronavirus that caused the second wave of COVID-19 was also first reported in India in 2020.
Although there is a lot of research going on around the Omicron sub-variant BA.2.75, the WHO says it is more transmissible. While it is a fast-spreading variant with many spike mutations appearing together, health experts say it’s too early to know exactly how much better BA.2.75 is at evading vaccine-induced and natural immunity.
Here’s what we know so far about the newly mutated sub-variant of Omicron:
What is BA.2.75 and how does it differ from other sub-variants?
In addition to the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, BA.2.75 is another subline of the Omicron variant. [Ma1] of the coronavirus. With new mutations constantly evolving, the Omicron sublines have become the dominant variants circulating worldwide. Currently, this new BA.2.75 subvariant has been detected in about 10 states in India. While not much is known about this underline, health experts have raised concerns about it.
What are the symptoms of subvariant BA.2.75?
No obvious symptoms have been reported so far. The infection caused by Omicron variant BA.2.75 is said to be mild or asymptomatic. However, it is still too early to say anything about the clinical symptoms of this subvariant.
Many health experts have said that the number of serious COVID cases has declined today compared to the past. However, experts advise looking out for COVID-19 sore throats that cause scratching, dryness, and pain. The symptoms are usually mild and may not last more than 4-5 days.
Older adults and those with co-morbidities should take special care and consult a doctor immediately. Sometimes a sore throat is followed by other symptoms such as loss of taste or smell, congestion, chills, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
However, the symptoms are milder, especially in vaccinated or previously infected people.
Can BA.2.75 bypass vaccine protection?
Based on early evidence, health experts believe this new subline could evade vaccine protections. Omicron, including its subvariants, is known to evade vaccine protection and immunity from a previous infection.
According to Bloom Lab, a lab that studies the molecular evolution of viruses and proteins in the US, the BA.2.75 subline will have an antibody escape similar to that for BA.4 or BA. 5 compared to the current vaccine.
However, experts agree that vaccines still remain the best defense against COVID-19, even if they have not prevented people from becoming infected.
Is subvariant BA.2.75 more transferable?
The BA.2.75 subvariant has many mutations that differ from the earlier Omicron variants. Some of these mutations are linked to the spike protein region and may allow the virus to better bind to the cells.
In addition, changes in the genetic material of the virus may allow the BA.2.75 subvariant to escape antibodies from vaccines or previous infections.
Is it a care variant?
While experts around the world previously flagged this new BA.2.75 subvariant, the WHO officially recognized it on 6e July 2022. While the WHO is closely monitoring data from around the world, they say it is still too early to tell if it can cause serious infections.
What are the preventive measures to be taken?
Aside from getting vaccinated, including the recommended booster doses, mask wearing and cleanliness are forever relevant.
- Wear face masks and maintain social distancing when going outside
- Follow proper hand hygiene and watch out for cold symptoms
- Get all your vaccine doses on time when you qualify, including booster doses
- Consult a doctor if necessary if your fever or cold does not subside
In addition, health experts recommend continuing to check trusted sources such as the CDC, WHO, and central and state government guidelines for evidence-based information on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
The high transmissibility of BA.2.75 could create another major public health problem, threatening unvaccinated people. This high transmissibility rate explains the number of positive cases. There is some evidence that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can be infected with the highly transmissible subvariant. The recommended preventive measures against COVID-19 infection should continue, including vaccination, physical distancing, wearing the face masks correctly and avoiding crowded places and mass gatherings.