A more contagious subvariant of the COVID-19 Omicron strain has slipped into Russia, saida a senior official at the national consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor (June 12) said on Sunday.
A viral genome of the BA.4 sublineage has been submitted to national labs for identification in the VGARus database according to Kamil Khafizov, the head of genome research at Rospotrebnadzor’s Central Research Institute for Epidemiology.
TASS News agency quoted Khafizov as saying that “Samples date back to late May.”
“One sample was deposited by the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, and another one – by Rospotrebnadzor’s Central Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology,” said the Russian Health Watchdog.
“A number of studies published recently have revealed that variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are a little bit more transmissible that the early forms of Omicron,” he added.
According to Khafizov, the BA.2 subtype still accounted for 95 per cent of all new cases in Russia.
Although the BA.2 subvariant remains dominant across the world, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in May that Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 were driving a surge of the disease in unvaccinated countries.
BA.4 and BA.5 were first detected in South Africa in January as per the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control