The Omicron COVID subvariant BA.4.6, which has been rapidly spreading in the US, is now verified to be spreading in the UK.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported in its most recent briefing document on COVID variations that for the week beginning August 14, BA.4.6 made up 3.3 percent of samples in the UK. Since then, it has increased to account for about 9% of sequenced instances.
In a same vein, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that BA.4.6 is now responsible for more than 9% of recent cases in the US. The variation has also been seen in a number of other nations worldwide.
What do we know about BA.4.6, and is there cause for concern? Let’s review the data we’ve gathered so far.
The Omicron variation BA.4.6 is a kin of BA.4. The BA.4 form, which was initially discovered in South Africa in January 2022, has since spread over the world together with the BA.5 variant.
Though its origin is unclear, it’s probable that BA.4.6 is a recombinant variation. When two SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) variants infect the same individual simultaneously, recombination occurs.
Although BA.4.6 will resemble BA.4 in many respects, it has a mutation in the spike protein, which is a protein on the virus’s surface that permits it to enter our cells.
The R346T mutation, which has been observed in other variations, is linked to immune evasion, which means it aids the virus in evading antibodies developed by immunization and past infection.