The World Health Organization is investigating cases of two new subvariants of the omicron strain of the novel coronavirus, the organization reported this week.
The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the original omicron variant (BA.1) have been seen in a few dozen cases worldwide. The WHO has added the subvariants to a list it monitors to determine how quickly the versions of the virus spread.
The WHO is tracking the subvariants because “additional mutations need to be further studied to understand their impact on immune escape potential,” Reuters reported.
There have been many variants of the original novel coronavirus that caused the pandemic that began in March 2020. Currently, the BA.2 virus is responsible for nearly all the new cases of COVID-19 virus.
The U.K. Health Security Agency said last week BA.4 had been found in South Africa, Denmark, Botswana, Scotland and England from Jan. 10 to March 30, Reuters reported.
All the BA.5 cases were in South Africa as of last week.
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