A new Omicron subvariant that is driving infections in India has been detected in Canada.
Known as BA.2.75, the coronavirus mutation has been found across India and in smaller numbers in at least 10 other countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada.
While BA.2.75 is thought to be highly contagious and capable of dodging vaccines and immunity from previous infections, it is still unknown if it causes more serious disease than other variants.
“It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions,” Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told the Associated Press. “But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase.”
Several mutations separate BA.2.75 from its COVID-19 cousins. According to Binnicker, some of those could allow the virus to more efficiently bind to cells and escape antibodies.
First detected in May 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was tracking the subvariant earlier this month.
“In Europe and America, BA.4 and BA.5 are driving waves,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a July 6 media briefing. “In countries like India a new sub lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected, which we’re following.”
The WHO currently lists BA.2.75 as a variant that’s “under monitoring.”
According to the latest figures from the Public Health Agency of Canada, “other BA.2” COVID-19 variants made up nearly six per cent of infections for the week of June 19, 2022. In Canada and many other countries, COVID-19 surveillance has dropped significantly in recent months, meaning true case numbers are likely much higher than official figures.
Although vaccines and boosters might not prevent COVID-19 infection, Canadian officials say they are still a strong defence against severe disease.
“Evidence indicates that the vaccines used in Canada are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” a government website says. ” A booster dose following a primary series of mRNA vaccines offers better protection against Omicron infection and severe disease than the primary series alone.”
The Associated Press reported on Monday that BA.2.75 has been detected in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CTVNews.ca.
With files from the Associated Press