LISTEN | New Omicron sub-variants being probed by Botswana and SA researchers
New sub-lineages of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been discovered by researchers in SA and Botswana.
Researchers say little is known about the sub-lineages named BA.4 and BA.5, but people should not panic because the number of hospitalisations, infections and deaths have not spiked.
Dr Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, a virologist with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) regional office for Africa, said the researchers still have much to do to understand the threat the new sub-lineages may pose.
The WHO announced that the sub-lineages have been identified in four people in Botswana and 23 in SA. Outside Africa, sub-lineages have been confirmed in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the UK.
Gumede-Moeletsi asked the international community to not undertake punitive measures against the African countries that brought attention to the new sub-lineages. She said doing so not only unjustly stunts their economies, but also discourages adequate genomic surveillance.
Previously discovered omicron sub-lineage BA.2 was well known for its rapid infection rate which caused global concern.