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Fast-spreading BA.2 subvariant of Omicron discovered in HCMC

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – BA.1 and BA.2, the two subvariants of the Omicron coronavirus variant, have been detected in the community in HCMC, with BA.2 now becoming dominant, said a local health official.

Speaking at a meeting between the city’s anti-Covid and economic recovery authority and districts and Thu Duc City today, March 9, Tang Chi Thuong, director of the HCMC Health Department, said new Covid infections and fatalities around the world declined last week. However, Vietnam was seeing a greater spike in new cases than other countries in Southeast Asia.

The rise in daily new cases raised questions about whether another wave of Covid could be on the horizon. Thuong said the world has experienced three coronavirus waves, with each linked to a new variant. The second wave was related to the Delta variant. The third one was linked to the Omicron variant, mostly the BA.1 subvariant, and recently, the BA.2 subvariant.

BA.2, the latest strain of the coronavirus, was first recorded in Africa and India. It is more transmissible than the older variants.

According to the health official, WHO asserted that Covid vaccines still can protect people from getting worse after being infected with the BA.2 subvariant but are unable to prevent an infection. Therefore, vaccination rollouts need to be facilitated, although BA.2 has become the dominant strain.

As for Omicron cases in HCMC, Thuong said the city tested 119 Covid-infected people randomly. The result revealed that Omicron was responsible for 103 cases, or 86%. Further, through the genome sequencing of 67 cases, the city discovered BA.1 accounted for 24 cases while BA.2 was responsible for the rest.

This indicated that both, the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants, had hit the city. Their presence could explain why the Covid transmission rate has surged recently, Thuong added.

As of March 8, more than 7.3 million people in the city had got the second shot, while over 4.7 million of them had received vaccine boosters.

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