Two Omicron sub-variants also detected in South Africa have been labelled ‘variants of concern’ by health officials in Europe which might increase hospital admissions.
In March, two Omicron sub-variants known simply as BA.4 and BA.5 were discovered in South Africa but experts said they would not cause a spike in Covid-19 cases.
OMICRON SUB-VARIANTS COULD DOMINATE EUROPE
In a report, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that variants BA.4 and BA.5 could lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases across the continent. The Centre also warned that this could increase hospital admissions and pressure in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
Both new variants of concern can evade immunity awarded by both a previous Covid-19 infection and a vaccine, ‘particularly if this is waned over time’, reportedly.
“The presence of these variants could cause a significant overall increase in Covid-19 cases in the EU/EEA in the coming weeks and months.
“The overall proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 in the EU/EEA is currently low but the high growth advantages reported suggest that these variants will become dominant in the EU/EEA in the coming months.”
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
According to the centre, BA5 is expected to be the most common variant in Portugal by May 22.
SHOULD SA BE CONCERNED?
Covid-19 cases have been increasing in South Africa with over 50% from Gauteng.
According to the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) Director, Professor Tulio de Oliviera’s genomic sequencing, neither BA.4 nor BA.5 caused a major spike in cases, hospitalisations, or even deaths – despite being detected in March.
“It’s good news: Despite the increase in the percentage of genomes, BA.4 and BA.5 are not causing a spike in infections in SA. The same is seen for hospitalisation and deaths, which SA is at a record low. BA.4 and BA.5 share a similar spike profile as BA.2, except for a few additional mutations.”
“Further evolution of Omicron and identification of its additional sub-lineages is entirely expected. At present, we are all alerted but not concerned. It is a great time to get a booster, keep variants at bay, and return to normal life.”
Tulio de Oliviera
ALSO READ: COVID-19: Two new variants found in SA – but experts ‘not concerned’
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