The UK well being authorities on Friday mentioned they are going to be conducting additional evaluation right into a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 after designating it a variant below investigation (VUI).
The UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA), which screens information associated to the pandemic, mentioned the sub-lineage often called BA.2 reveals a low variety of circumstances within the nation, with the unique Omicron lineage BA.1 nonetheless dominant.
A VUI designation is the preliminary step of investigation earlier than being designated a variant of concern (VOC), which the unique Omicron BA.1 at the moment is.
“The Omicron variant sub-lineage often called BA.2 has been designated as a variant below investigation,” UKHSA mentioned.
“The variety of BA.2 circumstances is at the moment low, with the unique Omicron lineage, BA.1, nonetheless dominant within the UK and additional analyses will now be undertaken. UKHSA are persevering with to watch information on the BA.2 sub-lineage intently,” it mentioned.
The sub-lineage was designated in early December final yr and as of January 10 this yr, 53 sequences of BA.2 had been recognized within the UK.
“It’s within the nature of viruses to evolve and mutate, so it is to be anticipated that we’ll proceed to see new variants emerge because the pandemic goes on,” mentioned Dr Meera Chand, UKHSA Incident Director.
“Our continued genomic surveillance permits us to detect them and assess whether or not they’re vital. Case charges stay excessive all through the UK and we should stay vigilant and take up vaccinations,” she mentioned.
The UKHSA replace comes because the UK recorded one other 107,364 COVID-19 infections on Thursday, after having dropped under the 100,000 mark in latest days. The well being company mentioned there may be now “excessive confidence” that the Omicron variant causes low severity of illness in adults.
Nevertheless, confidence ranges for severity indicators for kids are low as a result of additional evaluation is required to check the chance of hospitalisation between Omicron and Delta, and to evaluate the scientific nature of sickness in youngsters.
“We’ll be endeavor additional evaluation to research the small rise within the variety of youngsters admitted to hospital however at the moment coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a really low well being danger to youngsters and infants,” mentioned Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA Chief Medical Advisor.
“Early information reveals that younger youngsters who’re hospitalised expertise gentle sickness and are discharged after brief stays in hospital. Getting your booster jab stays the simplest approach of defending your self and others from an infection and extreme illness,” she mentioned, including that testing stays an necessary software within the combat towards COVID.
Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a roll again of strict COVID-19 restrictions, because the so-called Plan B measures introduced in to deal with Omicron might be allowed to lapse from subsequent Thursday.
Folks will now not be directed to earn a living from home the place potential or put on face masks as a authorized mandate. Bigger venues is not going to be legally required to demand a COVID vaccine certificates or destructive COVID take a look at for entry, however can nonetheless select to take action.
“As we return to Plan A, the Home will know that some measures nonetheless stay, together with these on self-isolation. In specific, it’s nonetheless a authorized requirement for individuals who have examined optimistic for COVID to self-isolate,” Johnson informed the Commons.
“This week the World Well being Organisation mentioned that whereas the worldwide scenario stays difficult, the UK can begin to see ‘gentle on the finish of the tunnel’,” he mentioned.
The devolved areas of the UK have additionally eased strict family mixing norms because the stress on hospitals is introduced below management.