The latest genomic surveillance report issued by the Ministry of Health confirmed the exponential growth of infections corresponding to the Ömicron subvariant BA.5. The first case was reported on June 29 and the transmission rate was so high that, according to official statistics, it already represents the 53.5% of the detected cases.
The circulating volume subvariant BA.5 has called the attention of the health authorities, who observe with concern the great explosion of cases that occurred in the last three weeksa period in which it went from being below two digits to more than half of the total number of positive cases.
“The high transmission pattern observed for Ómicron has facilitated the appearance of additional switches that define different sublineages classified within the same variant. To date, 5 different main Omicron lineages have been reported globally: BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5 and their descendant lineages (BA.1.1, BA.2.12.1, among others). others)”, specifies the report of the Ministry.
The report in question adds that BA.2 now represents only 2.61% of the total cases, while BA.2.12.1 registers 4.51 percent. The striking figures correspond to the following subvariants: BA.4 represents 10.57% and BA.5, 53.59%which currently represent the two most contagious variants in the countrywhose sum amounts to 64%.
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What is worrying is that, according to specialists, the reported figures could represent just the tip of the iceberg, taking into account the speed of circulation of the detected sub-variants. Indeed, the infectologist Roberto Debbag insisted that the official figure released to date “would have to be multiplied for 15 or 20” to have a more realistic approximation to the number of infections. This is due to poor testing and the fact that the variant becomes increasingly contagious.
The last part registered a total of 52,745 cases, which represented 26% more than the previous week. This Sunday the new weekly figure will be known to continue evaluating the curve speed.
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The subvariants of Ómicron BA.4 and BA.5 have the mutation that could give them 2 specific qualities: greater transmissibility, as well as characteristics of immune escapeboth to vaccines and to duplicates created by a previous infection.
In this way, the “preliminary analyzes carried out in the United Kingdom did not find a significant difference in terms of vaccination history in those cases developed with BA.4 and BA.5 compared to BA.2, which could suggest comparable vaccine protection to that previously evaluated. However, studies with an adequate design are required to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines against these lineages”, details the Report.
In the last three weeks of the analyzed period, lineages BA.4 and BA.5 continue to ascendin such a way that the cases of Covid-19 already registered an increase of 9% between weeks 26 and 25 and 17% between 27 and 26. Said weekly increase is, as a percentage, growing . On the other hand, the number of deaths has also risen, although to a much lesser extent than in previous waves.
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Two investigations of the new subvariant
Although the information available on the characteristics and consequences of these two subvariants remains scarce and provisionalthe researchers identified 2 relevant characteristics.
The first investigation, headed by a scientist from the Washington School of Medicine, Ziyad Al-Aly, warns that with each reinfection the risk of presenting more severe symptoms is older. This assertion in principle would refute the belief according to which reinfection generates greater immunityand also runs counter to the promise that the next time the illness would be milder.
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However, another investigation managed at Weill Cornell Medicine in Doha, Qatar, indicates that the previous contagion with Ómicron protects against subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, with a coverage of 76 and 79 percent respectively . The conclusion, when comparing both works, would indicate that although getting infected twice with Ómicron is more difficult, the one that actually gets infected could have more severe symptoms.
Ömicron has spread globally at a steady pace. When BA.5 was thought to be the most contagious subvariant, another emerged: the BA.2.75 lineage, better known as Centaurus and original from India.
In this context it is worth mentioning that the coverage offered by vaccines makes the virulence of the infection more limited than with previous variants. If the curve of cases grows significantly, it is estimated that this could have repercussions -as has happened in other countries- on the demand for admissions.
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