11 July 2024

The Department of Medical Sciences and a network of laboratories in Thailand have detected nine cases of the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron since the beginning of this month, by means of whole genome sequencing, according to Dr. Supakit Sirilak, the department’s director-general.

He said today (Tuesday) that Thailand’s first BA.2 sub-variant case was found on January 2nd and it was reported to GISAID, a global science initiative and primary source which provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses and COVID-19.

So far, nine such cases have been found among both travellers from abroad and Thais, he said, adding that the significant characteristic of BA.2 is that there is no spike deletion at the 69-70 position.

He also said that researchers have not found any difference from BA.1 regarding the ability to evade the immune system, the ability to cause severe symptoms or the transmissibility.

The BA.2 variant was first identified in India and South Africa in late December.

Believed to have emerged from the mutation of Omicron, the BA.2 sub-variant has more than 20 mutations, about half of them in the spike protein, which interacts with human cells and is key to the virus entering the body.