The “hidden sister” variant of OMICRON spreads 33% faster and can avoid vaccines – but it’s not worse.
The latest study on the new strain, called BA.2, found that it is better at infecting vaccinated people.
Vaccines still work to make the disease easier, with most people being considered to have cold-like symptoms.
But fresh data has shown that it can jump from person to person faster than the original Omicron – which broke into the country in December.
In Denmark, where the study took place, the sub-variant now accounts for the majority of cases.
The numbers in the UK are still low compared to the original Omicron, but they are growing.
However, it does not appear to have any impact on hospitalizations and causes a similar mild disease to those vaccinated.
Seven-day maps showed how it moves around the country.
London and neighboring counties still have the most cases of BA.2 in general.
But there are other hotspots, such as Northampton, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Leicester.
Northampton has about 908 cases, while Ealing has 755.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute – which produces maps of UK-wide variants – has revealed that BA.2 is now more common than Delta.
As of January 24, 1,072 cases have been found in the UK by the UKHSA – but Sanger Institute’s maps estimate that by January 29 there had been around 40,000 cases.
The Danish study, which looked at Covid infections in more than 8,500 households between December and January, found that people infected with the BA.2 sub-variant were about 33% more likely to infect others than the original.
“We concluded that Omicron BA.2 is inherently substantially more transmissible than BA.1 and that it also possesses immune-evasive properties that further reduce the protective effect of vaccination against infections,” said the study’s researchers.
But vaccines are still key, they said, because both people who are vaccinated with booster and those who are completely vaccinated are less likely to become infected and transmit any of the subvariant.
It comes after Boris Johnson announced yesterday that our rapid launch of the vaccine means we are about to drop the last restrictions a month earlier – the last legal restrictions being lifted by February 24th.
This will include removing the requirement for people taking coronavirus to isolate themselves for six days.
However, his spokesman said: “Obviously, in the same way that someone with the flu would not recommend going to work, I would never recommend anyone to go to work when they have an illness. infectious ”.
The prime minister will drop the quarantine requirement at the end of February – a full month before it is initially scheduled to expire on March 24.
Downing Street welcomed the launch of the super-vaccine because it allowed England to give up coercion early and return to normal.