The World Health Organization (WHO) said there has been an emergence of a possible new Omicron sub-variant, unofficially referred to as BA.2.75, which has been detected in over 10 countries.
The sub-variant was first reported in India, according to the WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
“It’s still too early to know if this sub-variant has properties of additional immune invasion or of being more clinically severe,” she said.
The WHO committee and the technical advisory group on Virus Evolution (TAG VE) are currently tracking the variant and looking at the data from around the world.
“There are still limited sequences available to analyse, but this sub-variant seems to have a few mutations on the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein. That’s a key part of the virus that attaches itself to the human receptor, so we have to watch that,” said Swaminathan.
Director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said globally reported cases have increased nearly 30% over the past two weeks.
Omicron’s sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are currently dominating global Covid-19 cases.
“In Europe and America, BA.4 and BA.5 are driving waves. In countries like India a new sub-lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected, which we’re following,” he said.
In April this year, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants led to a small spike in cases in South Africa, causing an “unofficial” fifth wave.
Speaking to IOL News at the time, infectious diseases expert at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), Dr Richard Lessells, said it is normal for Covid-19 variants to have multiple different sub-lineages.
“Delta now has 133 sub-lineages (AY.1 to AY.133) according to the same definitions. So we do fully expect to see more Omicron sub-lineages over time,” he said.