The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that the new BA.2 subvariant of the omicron strain of COVID-19 is no more severe than omicron’s original strain.
“There’s no indication that there’s a change in severity,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, said at Tuesday’s press briefing.
She added that BA.2 has a “slight increase in growth rate” over BA.1, meaning the subvariant is slightly more transmissible than the omicron variant’s original strain.
“Beyond that, the data is really quite limited,” she said, noting that “most of the research that is available is on the subvariant BA.1.”
“BA.2 is one of the sublineages of omicron, so BA.2 is omicron, and it is a variant of concern,” Van Kerkhove explained. “It’s in the family of the variants of concern around omicron.”
“We need people to be aware that this virus is continuing to circulate and it’s continuing to evolve,” she added. “That’s why it’s really important that we take measures to reduce our exposure to this virus, whatever variant is circulating.”