The WHO does not yet consider BA.2 to be a distinct “variant of concern.” The agency is continuing to monitor how it spreads.
Monitoring BA.2 like Delta
The Omicron BA.1 variant or the “original” Omicron is supposedly easier to track than others. BA.1 is missing three target genes found in a common PCR test. Cases showing this pattern were assumed to be caused by BA.1 by default.
The BA.2 that is sometimes identified as a “stealth” sub-variant is a different case. BA.2 does not have the same missing target gene as the original Omicron BA.1 does. “BA.2 shares over 30 mutations with BA.1, but it also has 28 unique mutations,” says evolutionary geneticist and advisor to the Central Virology Laboratory in Israel Shay Fleishon.
Some countries are reporting that BA.2 is taking over the original Omicron strain in terms of dominance. It is now the dominant strain in Denmark and in parts of India and the Philippines. Denmark was the first European Union country to lift COVID restrictions just last week. Denmark also reported more than 50,000 new infections in just one day two weeks ago.