New Omicron subvariant reported in Britain

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A descendent of BA.4, the BA.4.6 is yet to be completely diagnosed and researchers are yet to understand the source of the new likely subvariant…reports Asian Lite News

While the world continues to reel under the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports of a new subvariant popping up are coming from the United Kingdom.

The new subvariant of Omicron has been dubbed BA.4.6 and was identified in the United Kingdom in August this year. The details were released by the UK Health Security Agency in its summary of variants under investigation in England.

The organisation detailed that it has a mutation in a known antigenically significant site and an apparent small growth advantage relative to BA.5. The document noted that 3.1% of the samples during the week of August 14 had the new subversion.

Meanwhile, the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has also said that BA.4.6 now accounts for more than 9% of recent cases across the US.

A descendent of BA.4, the BA.4.6 is yet to be completely diagnosed and researchers are yet to understand the source of the new likely subvariant.

According to a report in The Conversation, initial analysis revealed that BA4.6 carries a mutation to the spike protein, a protein on the surface of the virus which allows it to enter our cells. The report noted that the mutation, R346T, has been seen in other variants and is associated with immune evasion, meaning it helps the virus to escape antibodies acquired from vaccination and prior infection.

A study published in preprint indicates that the new subvariant will be less deadly the same as the Omicron, but could be equally good at evading immune systems.

Belgium starts Omicron booster campaign

Belgium started a vaccination campaign with new Omicron-adapted Covid-19 shots. It is primarily a “booster” dose for people who have already received vaccines against Covid-19.

The current campaign which was started on Monday is primarily aimed at immunocompromised people, those aged 65 years and above, and health professionals in hospitals and nursing homes.

This first phase of the new Omicron-specific booster campaign will run from September 12 to October 1 in Wallonia, Flanders and the Brussels-Capital Region, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to figures published on Monday by 7sur7.be, more than 700,000 invitations have been sent to all Walloons aged above 65 years who meet the conditions for revaccination.

People in the 50-64 age group will receive their invitation later.

Coronavirus indicators remain stable in Belgium. According to the Sciensano Scientific Institute of Public Health, 1,489 new Covid-19 infections on average were recorded per day between August 29 and September 4, a decrease of 2 per cent compared to the previous week.

As autumn approaches, some experts fear a new wave and are reiterating their call for caution.

As of September 5, 25,800,728 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Belgium. The vaccination coverage for the second booster dose is 5.2 per cent of the total population, and that of people aged 85 years and above is 48.2 per cent, according to Sciensano.

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