(CTN News) – While COVID-19 cases in the UK continue to decline, two rare sub-types of Omicron variants have been reclassified as variants of concern, bringing the UK’s coronavirus alert level down from four to three.
According to the agency, it will continue to analyze the rise because the full impact of the sub-types is unknown.
New Omicron types may have ‘immune escape’
According to Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the UKHSA, the reclassification of these variants as variants of concern reflects the fact that BA.4 and BA.5 infections are growing internationally and in the UK.
The variant classification system seeks to identify potential risks as early as possible, even though the impact of these variants remains unknown. The UKHSA is conducting more detailed studies. The data and analysis will be released in due course as part of our regular surveillance reporting,” she said.
Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are still in the early stages of growth in the UK, but analysis of the available data suggests they may have a competitive advantage over the currently dominant Omicron BA.2 variant.
For BA.4 and BA.5, laboratory data indicates a degree of immune escape that is likely to contribute to growth advantage, experts note.
As of Thursday, the UKHSA reported 115 confirmed cases of BA.4 and 80 cases of BA.5.
Despite the possibility that variants may contribute to increased case numbers, there is no evidence of increased severity levels.
BA.2 is subsiding the current Omicron wave. COVID-19 healthcare pressures continue to decline in all countries, and ONS community positivity estimates are decreasing,” the health chiefs across the United Kingdom said in a joint statement on Friday.
There is a reasonable expectation that the number of cases will increase due to BA.4, BA.5, or BA2.12.1, but this is unlikely to immediately affect COVID pressures,” they said.
Last year, the alert level was raised as the Omicron variant spread rapidly.
Coronavirus infections in the country are now believed to be at their lowest level for five months, according to the latest Office for National Statistics community-based analysis. PTI AK VM.