20 cases of omicron subspecies discovered in Israel

i24NEWS

2 min read
A medical technician holds a swab sample at the new coronavirus lab, at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel on November 9, 2020.
Yossi Aloni/Flash90A medical technician holds a swab sample at the new coronavirus lab, at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel on November 9, 2020.

There is currently no exact information about the danger the subspecies poses

A subspecies of the omicron Covid variant was found in Israel, the country's media reported Thursday. 

The subspecies, known as BA.2, was found in 20 people so far through genetic sequences, Kan news reported.

There is currently no exact information about the danger that the subspecies poses. BA.2 is currently known to have more mutations than the original omicron variant, with scientists speculating it might be more violent. 

It was first seen in China several weeks ago with suspicion that it originated in India. BA.2 has also been located in Denmark, Australia, Canada, and Singapore. 

Scientists told Kan that they are concerned about the development. 

“There are two lineages within omicron, BA.1 and BA.2, that are quite differentiated genetically,” Prof Francois Balloux, the director of the University College London Genetics Institute, said to The Guardian

“The two lineages may behave differently.”

Some researchers are calling the new variant "stealth omicron" as it lacks the deletion that allows PCR tests to spot it. 

Israel on Thursday recorded 48,095 new Covid cases from the previous 24-hour period.

The positivity rate was 11.97 percent out of 401,747 tests checking for the virus, which now includes institutionally recognized rapid antigen tests in addition to PCR tests. 

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