BA.2 should still be classified as omicron, WHO says

The omicron subvariant BA.2 should still be classified as an omicron sublineage rather than getting its own name, the World Health Organization said Feb. 22.

The WHO's statement comes about a week after Japanese scientists published research on BA.2's genetic differences from its parent strain, which they said warrant it being labeled as a separate variant of concern with its own Greek letter.

The WHO's Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met Feb. 21 to discuss the latest evidence on omicron, including the new research from Japan. 

"Based on available data of transmission, severity, reinfection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines, the group reinforced that the BA.2 sublineage should continue to be considered a variant of concern and that it should remain classified as omicron," the WHO said.

Public health officials worldwide should continue to monitor BA.2 as a distinct sublineage of omicron, the group said. 

View WHO's full statement here.

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