Covid: 5 Things To Know About The Ba2 Variant
After the Omicron variant, France is currently experiencing a breakthrough of a related sub-variant called BA2. In view of the increase in infections, it is legitimate to wonder about the contagiousness and dangerousness of this new variant. Here are 5 things to know about this new form of the virus at the origin of Covid-19.
1- It is a sub-variant of Omicron
If you have been following the news of the Covid-19 epidemic in France, you know that the new variant currently circulating in our country is called BA2.
BA2 is a sub-variant of Omicron, which was itself a variant of Sars-Cov 2, the virus that caused Covid-19.
Contrary to what we sometimes hear, BA2 is not a direct descendant of Omicron BA1, but a cousin lineage.
If you have symptoms and need to be tested, don't worry: the tests used in France can detect all subvariants of Omicron, whether it is BA1 or BA2.
Only sequencing can differentiate between the sub-variants, providing a more fine-grained analysis of the different lineages of the virus.
2- It is now the majority in France
If the BA2 variant is in the news, it's because it is now in the majority in France.
As of the end of March 2022, this Omicron subvariant accounted for 73% of Covid cases in France and 66% of cases globally.
In France, the progression of this subvariant at the expense of BA1 is observed throughout metropolitan France, at different levels depending on the region.
All audiences are affected, especially children. For most people, the infection has no serious consequences, unlike the elderly or frail in whom the disease may result in hospitalization.
3- It is more contagious than the previous sub-variant
The BA2 sub-variant is more contagious than the previous Omicron sub-variant, BA1, which was circulating in France until then.
In a March 19 press conference, Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist at WHO, said that BA2 is the most contagious variant of SARS-CoV 2 that we have known so far.
Its transmissibility partly explains the reversal of epidemiological trends seen in recent weeks.
Indeed, physicians noted in March 2022 a rebound in the incidence rate in France, under the effect of this new variant but also of the relaxation of barrier gestures and the lifting of sanitary restrictions (in particular the end of the obligation to wear a mask in certain contexts).
On March 29, 2022, 217,000 new cases were counted in 24 hours, which is a record since February 8.
It should be noted that it is possible to be infected with the BA2 sub-variant after having been infected with BA1, although such reinfections are rare.
4- It is not more dangerous than the previous variants
Fortunately, the BA2 variant now in the majority in France is not more dangerous than previous forms of the virus.
According to Santé Publique France, its severity is equivalent to that of BA1. This means that it does not cause any more severe forms than its predecessor.
In addition, a Danish study conducted by the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen shows that there are no more hospitalizations with BA2 than with BA1.
Specifically, compared with the original form of the virus, the risk of hospitalization and ICU admission is up to 80% lower.
Another reassuring fact is that the vaccine is still as effective against the disease, even if you have had contact with the BA2 variant.
After 3 doses of vaccine, the efficacy against the disease is 74% against BA2. This effectiveness decreases to about 50% two and a half months after the Third dose of vaccine.
5- It does not cause specific symptoms
If you are wondering about the symptoms of the BA2 variant, doctors have not observed any symptoms specific to this sub-variant.
The symptoms it causes are comparable to those of the Omicron variant, most often respiratory symptoms and less loss of taste and smell than at the beginning of the outbreak.
The main symptoms reported by patients are:
- severe fatigue
- muscle aches and pains
- Sore throat
- runny nose
- nausea and vomiting