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As of Friday (28 Jan), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that the sub-variant of Omicron has been found in Singapore.

According to the Ministry’s statistics, there are 40 local cases and 150 imported cases in Singapore for the BA.2 Omicron subvariant as of 25 January.

Subvariant BA.2 is More Infectious than BA.1

In most of the receding waves of Omicron cases across the world, the Omicron parent variant (B.1.1.529) has been the dominant variant that has surfaced.

However, because Subvariant BA.2 is missing in the spike 69-70 mutations, something that causes the S gene target failure which triggers a positive reaction of the polymerase chain tests (PCR), it has gone largely unnoticed amidst the Omicron cases, hence its nickname of “stealth variant”.

In Denmark especially, 20% of accounted Omicron cases were due to the Subvariant BA.2, and just two weeks into 2022, the percentage has risen to 45%.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed on Wednesday (26 Jan) that the Subvariant BA.2 is more infectious than BA.1, but there are no significant differences in the symptoms that they cause.

Denmark’s health authorities also stated that they needed more data to examine to fully comprehend the implications of severity, immunity, and transmissibility of BA.2.

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Possible Worries about Subvariant BA.2

Compared to the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron parent variants, the Subvariant BA.2 has merely been classified as a “variant under investigation” instead of a variant of concern.

Currently, scientists and researchers have discovered that BA.2 shares 32 of the same mutations as BA.1, but there are also 28 that are different.

The only reason why news about Subvariant BA.2 has suddenly reared its head is because BA.2 has started replacing BA.1 in several countries like the United Kingdom (UK), Denmark, Germany, and India.

With regards to any worries towards BA.2, many researchers theorised that people who have been infected with BA.1 recently are unlikely to get BA.2, especially for the vaccinated population.

The antibodies developed from BA.1 will still be effective against BA.2, at least it will be more immune to any Omicron subvariant compared to the Delta variant, Jesse Bloom stated, coming from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington.  

 As a matter of fact, the existing vaccines are actually more effective against BA.2 than BA.2.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, the three circulating and existing vaccines are 70% percent effective at preventing symptomatic infections by BA.2 two weeks after the booster, and 63% effective against BA.1.

Therefore, even if there is a small spike of cases for Subvariant BA.2, the largely vaccinated population of Singapore should be safe from any severe effects. 

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Featured Image: Shutterstock / G.Tbov

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