'More transmissible' Omicron BA.4 COVID-19 variant detected in Russia
A more contagious subvariant of the Omicron strain has slipped into Russia, news agency ANI reported a senior official at the national consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying. Kamil Khafizov is the head of genome research at Rospotrebnadzor's Central Research Institute for Epidemiology and he informed that two national labs had submitted the viral genome of the BA.4 sublineage to the VGARus database. "Samples date back to late May," Khafizov said, as quoted by ANI.
He stated that the BA.2 subtype still accounted for 95 per cent of all new cases in Russia.
"A number of studies published recently have revealed that variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are a little bit more transmissible that the early forms of Omicron," he said.
According to the expert, good herd immunity gained through vaccination and previous waves of the novel coronavirus prevents the spread of new omicron sub-variants in Russia at the moment, Russian news agency TASS reported.
"However, a number of researches published lately show that the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages of omicron are slightly more transmissive than earlier versions of the omicron," Khafizov added.
WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan suggested that the subvariants may trigger a new “mini wave”, as a surge in daily COVID infections is being recorded in the country. “The sub-variants that are emerging are more transmissible than the original.
It is a possibility that there could be mini waves every four-six months or so and hence, apart from all Covid-appropriate precautionary measures that need to be taken, it is important to also track the variant,” Dr. Swaminathan told Indian Express.