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Relax — new Covid-19 sub-variant BA.2 is ‘not cause for concern’ at the moment

28 January 2022 - 09:11
The Covid-19 sub-variant BA.2 is becoming dominant in some countries. Stock photo.
The Covid-19 sub-variant BA.2 is becoming dominant in some countries. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/phonlamaiphoto

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has calmed fears about the Covid-19 sub-variant BA.2, saying it is not a cause for concern at the moment. 

BA.2 was first identified in India and SA in late December last year. It is believed to have emerged from a mutation of Omicron. 

Other sub-lineages have already been referenced, such as BA.3 or BB.2, but they have attracted less attention from epidemiologists due to the increase in cases of people who have contracted the BA.2 variant. 

Speaking during a media briefing, NICD virologist Penny Moore said there is no need to panic.

“There are several variants emerging within Omicron. It is what is expected. BA.2 is interesting because it is becoming dominant in some countries,” said Moore. 

“In terms of whether it is cause for concern, we actually don’t have enough data. We are studying it. I don’t see any reason we should be concerned. We are monitoring it in SA.”

Last week health minister Joe Phaahla warned that a new variant could see the country enter a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections sooner than expected. Speaking on SABC News, Phaahla said the fifth wave could be worsened by cold weather and the flu season.  

“If there is no variant of serious concern very soon, we definitely would expect a wave somewhere around May, when winter starts. That’s when people start to congregate indoors because of the cold. That’s also when flu season starts,” he said. 

“We expect possibly the middle to end of May, that’s when we expect the next wave. It might come earlier, like we saw last year.”

Epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim has predicted that the worst of the variants could be over. 

He said future variants could continue to evolve and spread faster but cause less severe disease.

“What we are likely to see with future variants is that to displace Omicron it’s going to have to be able to spread even faster. Based on what we can see, we can expect future variants would have to in all likelihood be less severe.”



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