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Coronavirus: There’s a third variant of Omicron ‘BA.3’

There is also a BA.3 subvariant of Omicron, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday, Times of India reported.

Though the third wave of COVID is waning, the degree of risk stays the same as it was before. On March 5, 2022, Maria Van Kerkhove, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and COVID-19 Technical Lead at the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that there is a similarity in terms of severity between BA.2 and BA.1 subvariants of Omicron and added that among all lineages of Omicron there is also BA.3 lineage.

While on one hand, this statement gives a ray of hope that BA.2 sub variant of Omicron which was thought to be severe is mild as the BA.1 subvariant is, but on the other hand with the report of another subvariant it also gives out a message that nothing is over yet and the coronavirus is still a dangerous virus lurking all around us.

The Omicron variant was first detected in November and on November 26, the WHO designated it as a variant of concern. “The most prominent ones that have been detected worldwide are BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2. There’s also a BA.3 and other sub lineages,” said Maria Van Kerkhove.

What is BA.3 Omicron subvariant?

Omicron includes Pango lineage B.1.1.529 and descendent Pango lineages BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3, as per WHO information.

A research study published on January 18, 2022 in the Journal of Medical Virology has also confirmed the presence of BA.3 sub lineage.

“Our study found that there were no specific mutations for the BA.3 lineage in spike protein. Instead, it is a combination of mutations in BA.1 and BA.2 spike proteins,” the study says. The study adds that BA.3 sub lineage was first detected in north west South Africa. As per the study as on January 11, 2022 of the total genome sequences submitted to the GISAID database only 0.013% were of BA.3 Omicron subvariant and the highest were of BA.1. The study further found that there were fewer mutations in BA.3 than BA.1 and has speculated that loss of mutations might be a reason why BA.3 has less number of infections.

BA.3 has been called as the less-prevalent lineage of Omicron by many research studies.