Omicron sub-variant is almost as infectious as measles, epidemiologist says
However, research has indicated it's not any more severe than Omicron.
An epidemiologist has warned the new Omicron sub-variant is almost as infectious infectious as measles.
Professor Adrian Esterman, a former World Health Organisation (WHO) epidemiologist, told ABC News that although the new sub-variant is not any more severe than Omicron, it is more transmissible. He said: “That means we’re going to see case numbers skyrocketing.”
On his Twitter account, Esterman added: “Omicron BA.2 is about 1.4 times more infectious than BA.1. The basic reproduction number (R0) for BA.1 is about 8.2, making R0 for BA.2 about 12.
“This makes it pretty close to measles, the most contagious disease we know about.”
All versions of Omicron are highly contagious, which is why the variant swiftly crowded out earlier forms of the coronavirus, like Delta. But BA.2 (also known as Stealth Omicron) is even more transmissible than previous variants, although it's not thought to be any more severe than Omicron.
A Danish study looked at the spread of both sub-variants in households and found that people with BA.2 were far more likely to infect others than those with BA.1.
In England, researchers found that it took less time on average for someone with BA.2 to infect another person.
There is no evidence so far that it is more likely to evade protection from vaccines or causes a more severe disease, and British health officials have said there is little difference between the two sub-variants in terms of vaccine effectiveness.
In both cases, a booster shot provides strong protection against infection and very strong protection against hospitalisation.