2 April 2022 Apia Samoa. The Ministry of Health has confirmed the coronavirus variant currently spreading in the community as the BA.1 sub lineage of the Omicron variant.
“This sub lineage of the Omicron variant was common in many countries since the beginning of this year, however the most recent BA.2 sub lineage of the Omicron variant appears to have displaced the BA.1 in many countries including New Zealand and Australia”, the Ministry observes.
The confirmation of which variant is in Samoa was a result of 50 samples of positive cases prepared and sent to New Zealand for genomic sequencing. The results returned Friday afternoon states the release.
The Omicron variant, which researchers first sequenced in South Africa and Botswana in November 2021, was found to be more transmissible but cause less severe disease than its predecessor — the Delta variant.
Owing to being more contagious, Omicron rapidly supplanted Delta as the dominant variant worldwide. Currently, it accounts for 99%Trusted Source of all sequenced cases.
Moreover, since it emerged, scientists have categorized Omicron’s subvariants or lineages into three groups: BA.1, BA.2, and BA.3.
Although the BA.1 subvariant started as the dominant Omicron lineage across the globe, since December 2021, the proportion of COVID-19 cases linked to the BA.2 variant has been rapidly increasing.
Samoa’s Acting Director General of Health Dr. Glenn Fatupaito has called for Samoa to not be complacent, and ensure all eligible adults get their boosters as soon as possible.
“We may need to receive boosters every six months,” he said. “Being fully immunised greatly reduces the chances of severe disease and narrows the chances of a positive case needing hospitalisation,” says Dr Fatupaito.
VOC and VOI
As we know, coronavirus mutates continuously. With every mutation, a new variant emerges. WHO classified these variants into two categories:
- A variant of concern (VOC): It includes the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants of the coronavirus.
- A variant of interest (VOI): Under this category, World Health Organization placed the Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda variants of coronavirus.
Variants classified under a variant of concern are rapidly transmissible from one person to another and with a higher fatality rate, and the overall effectiveness of the treatment is comparatively less.
Omicron is the fifth variant of concern because it is mutating very rapidly. Till now, more than 30 mutations are being recognized in Omicron.