• Chinese health and the Covid zero prison: Probation in sight or longer prison sentences for omicron sub-variants?

Studies by epidemiologists and geneticists following


aim to discover and analyze globally stored genome data (for example, in GISAID, the international platform for collecting sequenced


genomes ) to identify

the next variant

that could be worrying.

All variants circulating in the world now are sub-lineages of Omicron


In particular, after a few weeks of BA.2 prevalence,

BA.5 is taking over.

These days, however, the eyes of scholars are focused on a subvariant that derives not from


, but from


and has been

classified as BA.2.75


This is a variant with the potential to become of concern and therefore to be closely monitored.

It should be noted that there are still very few confirmed cases,

but apart from a larger cluster

in India

, the geographic distribution is already international (with Australia, Canada, Germany, UK, and New Zealand depositing at least one sequence), which would rule out sequencing errors.

The analysis of the variant in question was carried out in detail by

Tom Peacock

, a virologist at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London:


has 45 mutations in common with


and 15 peculiar ones.

Among these,

8 Spike protein mutations

(BA.5 has "only" 3).

In particular, it differs considerably from the


BA.2 with two key mutations:

G446S and R493Q.


, synthesized by scientists at the Laboratory of Protein and Virus Evolution at Fred Hutch (USA), is one of the most potent

escape sites for antibodies

induced by current vaccines that still neutralize



Therefore, the forecast for BA.2.75 is for

an even greater ease in overcoming the antibody barrier

created by vaccinations or a recent


infection .



will have less effect on antibodies in people with a previous

BA.1 infection.


Therefore, the antigenic advantage of




will be more pronounced in people who have not been exposed to



The ability of


to "simulate" vaccine antibodies is increasing, also because the distance of the variants that have followed over time from the original


virus (on which the vaccines were designed in use) is abysmal,

the strains are very different from each other even within Omicron

: this implies greater difficulty in curbing infections, which means greater transmissibility of viruses and more people who get sick again.

On the other hand, the protection still offered by vaccines against severe


disease remains strong.

However, the success of any variant also depends on

its intrinsic transmissibility.

Until now, the infectious capacity of


has always increased (making it one of the most contagious viruses that has ever appeared on the planet) and the same could also happen with the


variant , which has

8 mutations

in Spike protein, but it remains a difficult variable to measure experimentally and

can only be estimated once there is enough epidemiological data

to see how it is transmitted in the human population.

Nothing is known, however, about the

greater or lesser lethality

, which is measured only in the field, in hospitals.

However, so far, the virus has not gone in the direction of increasing its pathogenic impact and it is thought that this may be the case again.

In any case, the

analysis of the sequences

remains essential to understand in which direction the


is moving and, above all, to plan timely interventions.

It is also important to understand which variants and features

vaccine updates

will need to focus on , which risk chasing the succession of


variants .

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  • Omicron variant