Tehran (IP) - An expert in epidemic diseases warns that the COVID Omicron Subvariant BA.2 might be as dangerous as the previous variant Delta. 

Iran PressIran News: The news came amid the World Health Organization (WHO) warnings that BA.2 has been rapidly spreading worldwide.

"BA.2 subvariant may cause a more severe disease rather than BA.1 Omicron subvariant and might be as dangerous as Delta variant of the coronavirus," Masoud Mardani, an infectious disease specialist, told Iran Press on Monday.

The Omicron, called by the WHO "a variant of concern," has two sublineages, namely BA.1 and BA.2.

Meanwhile, the WHO has warned that "the BA.2 sublineage should continue to be considered a variant of concern and that it should remain classified as Omicron."

"At a global level, the proportion of reported sequences designated BA.2 has been increasing relative to BA.1 in recent weeks," the WHO said on February 22. 

The UN body said the initial data suggest that BA.2 appears inherently more transmissible than BA.1, which currently remains the most common Omicron sublineage reported. 

Mardani, who sits on Iran's Scientific Committee of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, added: "Most cases of Omicron in Iran were related to BA.1, which was more like a cold, and most of the patients recovered without having severe symptoms."

Referring to the danger of BA.2, he said: "BA.2 subvariant may cause a more severe disease such as Delta COVID, but fortunately only a small percentage of infections in Iran are diagnosed as this subvariant."

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Omicron wave in downward trend

Pointing to the decrease in the number of new coronavirus infections in Iran, the infectious disease specialist said the Omicron wave in the country has now entered a downward trend. "Given that the Omicron reaches the peak quickly and declines rapidly, it has been more than a month now that this COVID variant has entered the country and after reaching the peak, it is now in a downward trend and new cases of the disease and new hospitalizations are very low."

"A large number of hospital beds have been vacated and outpatients have been reduced to one third," said the infectious disease specialist, referring to the favorable condition of the hospitals. "Of course, ICU beds are still occupied because people who have contracted Omicron during the peak still need care.

Mardani noted that the ICU hospitalization and new deaths are expected to decrease in the next two weeks, which will be after Iran's new year celebrations, Nowruz.

Do not travel to these countries!

The expert in epidemic diseases also warned against traveling to certain countries. 

Referring to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, he said that in the next two weeks, epidemics of BA.2 may occur in Yemen, Egypt and Kuwait, leading to a new wave of disease in these countries.

Mardani advised travelers to Turkey and the UAE to take health protocols seriously and to refrain from attending places where social distancing is not observed.

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Fourth dose of vaccine, necessary?

In response to Iran Press' question on whether the fourth dose of the COVID vaccine is necessary or not, Mardani said: "So far, the World Health Organization and Iran's Scientific Committee of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce have not reached the conclusion that the fourth dose is necessary."

He added: "Of course, the fourth dose of the vaccine may be considered for immunocompromised patients, whose bodies do not produce enough antibodies, and it is scheduled to be discussed in the committee next week." 

The fourth dose may be needed for certain groups, but it is not recommended at all for ordinary people, the infectious disease specialist concluded.

Reported by Mojtaba Darabi


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