Outdoor cafe in Denmark – Photo: REUTERS
BA.2 first appeared in India and South Africa at the end of December 2021. It is considered a sublinear, emerging from a mutation of Omicron. Omicron itself was also born from a mutation of the Delta variant.
“There is no evidence that the BA.2 variant causes more severe disease, but it is certainly more contagious,” Danish Health Minister Heunicke said at a press conference on January 26.
The BA.1 strain currently accounts for 98% of all Omicron cases globally but in Denmark the BA.2 strain has dominated since the second week of January.
Denmark’s leading infectious disease research institute SSI says BA.2 is 1.5 times more infectious than BA.1, but there is no difference in the risk of hospitalization between the two sub-variants.
“There are some indications that it is more contagious, especially to unvaccinated people, but it can also infect people who have been vaccinated,” said Tyra Grove Krause, chief technical officer SSI technique said.
Cases related to BA.2 have been reported in at least 43 countries, with the highest numbers in Denmark, the UK, Sweden and Norway.
Israel injects 4 doses for people over 18 years old
Car testing site in Jerusalem, Israel – Photo: REUTERS
Also on January 26, Israel announced that it would start administering the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people over 18 years old and frontline health workers.
Israel was one of the first countries to launch a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign for its people. After that, the country gave a booster shot last summer and has so far started administering the fourth dose to the elderly and vulnerable.
The head of Israel’s COVID-19 disease response agency, Nachman Ash, cited research that showed that the fourth dose of Pfizer vaccine increased antibodies in people injected by 3-5 times compared to people who received 3 doses.
According to the Ministry of Health, more than 600,000 Israelis, out of a total population of 9.4 million, have received the fourth dose of the vaccine.