Moscow: A more contagious subvariant of the Covid-19 Omicron strain has slipped into Russia, a senior official at the national consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said. Kamil Khafizov, the head of genome research at Rospotrebnadzor’s Central Research Institute for Epidemiology, told reporters that two national labs had submitted the viral genome of the BA.4 sublineage to the VGARus database.
“Samples date back to late May,” Khafizov said.
The scientist added that the BA.2 subtype still accounted for 95% of all new cases in Russia. “A number of studies published recently have revealed that variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are a little bit more transmissible that the early forms of Omicron,” he said.
The head of the World Health Organization warned in May that Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 were driving a surge of the disease in unvaccinated countries, although the BA.2 subvariant remains dominant across the world.