Argentine health authorities Tuesday confirmed the first case of COVID-19 caused by the sublineage BA.2 of the coronavirus omicron variant., which is said to be two to three times more contagious than the original omicron.
The Malbrán Institute said the first case was a 62-year-old man from the City of Buenos Aires who had returned Jan. 12 from a trip to Uruguay. On Jan. 19, a diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 was performed, which yielded a positive result. At all times, the patient had a mild illness and was followed up on an outpatient basis, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Among his close contacts is his wife, who also has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the statement went on.
The BA.2 subvariant was first mentioned in a World Health Organization (WHO) paper published Jan. 25, but it is not considered dangerous. In fact, very little is known about this variant, but experts said vaccines were as effective as for the original omicron variant, which was first reported of Nov. 11 in Botswana. Two weeks later the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a variant of concern. This variant includes 4 sublineages: B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.2 (the one recently detected in this man) and BA.3.
The Ministry also explained that “the BA.2 sublineage would have a higher growth rate compared to BA.1 and that the secondary attack rate among cohabiting contacts would be higher than among contacts of other omicron sublineages.”
As omicron prevails worldwide, a continuous decrease in cases of Delta and a very low circulation of Alpha, Beta and Gamma have been reported.