Three cases of the new Omicron subvariant have been detected in Israel, the Ministry of Health says

Three cases of a new Omicron mutant that has appeared in many countries have been detected in Israel, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Scientists say the variant – called BA.2.75 – may be able to spread rapidly and evade immunity from previous vaccines and infections.

It is unclear whether the new subvariant can cause more serious disease than other Omicron mutations, including the globally prominent BA.5.

All three cases were detected in persons returning from abroad. One of the infected was returning from India and two others from France, the ministry said.

“The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public accordingly,” the statement said.

According to the latest Health Ministry data, 4,357 people tested positive for the virus in Israel on Saturday, with the rate of positive test results at 36.71%. There are currently 435 seriously ill patients. The virus has claimed 11,168 lives in Israel since the pandemic began.

It is currently harder to detect cases of the coronavirus in people landing in Israel, after the country stopped requiring incoming travelers, both Israeli and foreign, to take PCR tests after landing in May, meaning the number the actual number of BA.2.75 cases in Israel could potentially be much higher.

So far, the new variant has gained ground mainly in India, where it was first revealed in May.

Nicknamed the “Centaurus,” the relatively new variant has also been spotted in other countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands.

“It’s still too early for us to draw too many conclusions,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “But it seems like, especially in India, the streaming rates are showing this kind of exponential growth.”

Whether he will contest BA.5, he said, has yet to be determined.

However, the fact that it has already been detected in many parts of the world even with lower levels of viral surveillance “is an early indicator that it is spreading,” said Shishi Luo, head of infectious diseases for Helix, a company that supplies viral sequencing. information for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Antoine Flahault, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Geneva, told AFP that the spread of BA.2.75 in India showed it could be more transmissible than the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which has made waves in Europe and the US.

“It seems to be becoming the dominant type in India – the question is will it become the dominant type all over the world?”

Flahault added that previously dominant species, such as Delta, first took over where they appeared, before spreading throughout the world.

A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Hyderabad, India, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

Meanwhile, a recent study in the United Kingdom has found that the currently prominent BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID is more contagious and vaccine-resistant than earlier variants.

Dr. Gregory Poland, head of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in the US, labeled the Omicron subvariant “hyperadherent” and said it had “very little protection against BA.5 in terms of infection or mild to moderate infection”.

Last week, the European Union said it was “critical” that authorities in the 27-nation bloc consider giving second boosters of coronavirus vaccines to people aged between 60 and 79 and other vulnerable people, after a new wave of the pandemic is passing. the continent.

In the UN health agency’s weekly review of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said there were 5.7 million new infections confirmed last week, marking a 6% increase. There were 9,800 deaths, roughly similar to last week’s figure.

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