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Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Likely to Have Same Severity as BA.1

The BA.2 form of the omicron coronavirus variant does not seem more severe than the original BA.1, a World Health Organization official said Tuesday, according to Reuters (subscription).

Taking over: The comments by WHO COVID-19 Response Team member Dr. Boris Pavlin come as the BA.2 form starts to replace omicron’s BA.1 subvariant in countries such as Denmark.

  • “Based on data from Denmark, the first country where BA.2 overtook BA.1, there appears to be no difference in disease severity, although BA.2 has the potential to replace BA.1 globally, Pavlin added.”

Vaccination still effective: The BA.2 subvariant, which is also becoming dominant in Nepal, Qatar, the Philippines and India, is more transmissible than BA.1 and more able to infect vaccinated individuals. However, vaccination remains “profoundly protective against severe disease” even for BA.2.

  • According to Pavlin, the impact of the subvariant “is unlikely to be substantial, although more data are needed.”
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