New Omicron mutation found has ‘84% advantage’ over most contagious variant

Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has added two new Omicron variants – BA.4 and BA.5 – to its monitoring list. It is already tracking BA.1 and BA.2 – which are now globally dominant – as well as BA.1.1 and BA.3. But as experts are scrambling to learn more about the two new variants, Professor Raj Rajnarayanan, Assistant Dean of Research at Arkansas State University has warned early data could be of concern.

He wrote on Twitter: “These new designations – BA.4 & BA.5 have key signature mutations that warrants a good closer look.”

“BA.5 is prevalent in South Africa

“Key mutations – spike L452R, F486V, 493Q-reversion; M:D3N.

“COV-spectrum predicts a significant growth advantage over BA.1/BA.2.”

COV-spectrum is an interactive platform that helps scientists investigate and identify variants of Covid.

According to the data shared by Professor Rajnarayanan, the “relative growth advantage” over BA.2 could be as high as 84 percent.

Meanwhile, BA.4, according to the research, could have an advantage of up to 63 percent over BA.2.

It’s worth mentioning that the data is still incredibly limited on both of these variants.

There has also been no significant increase in hospitalisation or deaths in South Africa.

Nonetheless, the WHO said it had begun tracking them because of their additional mutations, which need to be further studied to understand their impact on immune escape potential.

The two sub-lineages of Omicron were detected earlier this month and since then the mutations have quickly “dominated” cases in the country, according to experts.

It has also been detected in Denmark and the UK – with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) dubbing them “variants under concern” in a report on April 8.

A UKHSA spokesman told “It is not unusual or unexpected for new variants of SARS-CoV-2 to arise, particularly while prevalence is high across the world.

“Several thousand variants have been documented to date and the vast majority of these have no impact upon the virus’ behaviour. Most die out quickly.

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“UKHSA is aware of two additional variants within the Omicron family, Omicron BA.4 and Omicron BA.5, which have been documented recently.

“We are assessing these closely, as we do for all new variants in the UK and internationally as a matter of routine.”

This comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning last week against a new mutant ‘XE’ subvariant of Omicron, that appears to be more transmissible than any strain of the coronavirus.

XE is said to be a combination of both the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants of Omicron.

Reports from the WHO and UK Health Security Agency suggest that the new variant is 10 percent more transmissible than the BA.2 subvariant, which is already the most contagious.

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