A healthcare worker administers the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination to a woman in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 20, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham/File Photo/File Photo

South Africa is seeing more cases of the BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus variant and is monitoring it, but there is no clear sign that BA.2 is substantially different from the original Omicron strain, a senior scientist said on Friday.

Iran PressAfrica: South Africa entered a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by Omicron late last year, shortly after alerting the world to the emergence of the highly transmissible variant.

Michelle Groome, from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, showed in a presentation that BA.2 accounted for 23% of the 450 samples from January sequenced by South Africa's genomic surveillance network and the original strain 75%.

According to Reuters, of the 2,243 samples from December that were sequenced, BA.2 accounted for 4% and the original strain 94%.

“We are seeing this increase with the BA.2, we are still trying to get more information on this particular sub-lineage ... and so we are increasing sequencing from those provinces where we are seeing increases (in cases) monitoring the proportion that is due to BA.2,” Groome told a news conference.

“At this stage, there is no indication that there would be ... differences between these different sub-lineages of Omicron. As we saw with Delta, there were lots of lineages, and we didn't see a lot of difference between them, but we will keep monitoring,” she added.

Asked whether there were signs BA.2 was causing different symptoms, she said she was not expecting marked changes. Scientists will analyse hospitalisation data for clues about the severity of illness linked to the sub-variant, she said.


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