New Omicron variant nearly 100% dominant in South Africa

The omicron BA.2 sub-variant makes up almost 100% of new coronavirus infections in South Africa, Tulio de Oliveira, a bio-informatics professor who runs gene-sequencing institutions and advises the government on the pandemic, said.

“As expected, omicron BA.2 takes over in South Africa, close to 100% of the new genomes,” de Oliveira, who announced the discovery of the original omicron variant on 25 November, said on Twitter. “What does it mean?”

While BA.2 appears to be more transmissible than the original omicron variant there is no indication that it causes more severe disease. De Oliveira has previously said that it could cause a second surge of infections within the omicron-driven wave.

Still, while South Africa was the first country to experience a major omicron wave the number of infections has tapered off.

On Wednesday the country reported 3,628 new cases, down from a record of almost 27,000 on Dec. 15. The original omicron strain is itself significantly more transmissible than earlier variants such as delta, but appears to cause milder disease.

Read: What to look out for in Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address – including new grants and business rules

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New Omicron variant nearly 100% dominant in South Africa