This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. (Image captured and colorized at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana)
Thailand’s Center for Medical Genomics (CMG) at Ramathibodi hospital has issued a warning about a new Omicron sub-variant, BA.2.12.1, which is becoming more prevalent in the US, accounting for roughly 20% of all new cases across America, and believed to be highly contagious.
Citing a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued on Tuesday, the CMG said that BA.2.12.1 is estimated to be 23% to 27% more transmissible than its predecessor BA.2 and is fuelling a resurgence in COVID cases in upstate New York.
The CMG warned, in its Facebook post on Wednesday that, although BA.1 has almost disappeared and BA.2 cases are slowing in Thailand, attention should be shifted to BA.2.12, which is already spreading in Thailand and may mutate into BA.2.12.1, as detected in upstate New York.
Cases of BA.2.12.1 have also been detected in UK, Australia, Israel, Denmark and Austria.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that BA.2.12.1 causes more severe disease than the previous Omicron variants and their spin-offs, according to the CDC.
CMG’s warning corresponds with an advisory from a virologist at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) that says, with the increase of overseas arrivals in Thailand, there is a likelihood that the BA.2.12.1 sub-variant will arrive soon.