BA.2 may be worse than BA.1

Bananas in Pajamas? No, BA.2 is a sub-variant of Omicron and it’s mooted to be even more infectious than other variants. Now there’s research coming out of Japan that suggests it could also be a whole lot more virulent:

‘When the researchers infected hamsters with BA.2 and BA.1, the animals infected with BA.2 got sicker and had worse lung function. In tissues samples, the lungs of BA.2-infected hamsters had more damage than those infected by BA.1.’

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/02/17/health/ba-2-covid-severity/index.html

The CNN article contains a link to the actual journal article so I clicked it. Doing so gave me access to the PDF of the research. I understood the abstract, kind-a, and the discussion, kind-a, not much in the middle, but what impressed me was the dogged persistence of the researchers. Every time their experiments came up with unexpected results, they changed the focus of the experiments to investigate the new leads…like detectives.

That dogged persistence, and the quality control the Japanese are known for, convinced me that this is no error-riddled study dashed off between breakfast and lunch. And that makes their conclusion even more chilling:

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.02.14.480335v1.full.pdf

If the Japanese research is confirmed, BA.2 could become our worst nightmare at a time when most states here in Australia are easing up on restrictions and opening their borders.

In NSW :

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-17/nsw-eases-covid-19-restrictions-face-masks-to-be-scaled-back/100839260

In Victoria, some restrictions on density and QR codes will be eased but ‘… mask requirements are to remain in place for the time being.’ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-17/victorian-government-covid-restrictions-new-deaths-cases/100838490

Thank you, Dan Andrews. At the rate that BA.2 is spreading, there should be definitive data available long before we throw caution to the winds.

“It looks like we might be looking at a new Greek letter here,” agreed Deborah Fuller, a virologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who reviewed the study but was not part of the research.

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/02/17/health/ba-2-covid-severity/index.html

Since the beginning of February, 2022, Denmark has removed all pandemic restrictions. Denmark also happens to be the only country in Europe where BA.2 is well and truly the dominant strain. This is a graph of the death toll in Denmark:

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/denmark/#graph-cases-daily

If you click the worldometers link and hover your mouse over the very end of the line on the graph, you will see that the data is for February 18, just two days ago. Only time will tell exactly how virulent BA.2 really is, but I’m not dumping my mask any time soon.

My thanks to Mole for bringing the Japanese research to my attention…our attention. Stay safe my friends.

Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

42 responses to “BA.2 may be worse than BA.1

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Oh (heck), Andrea. Another virus to rip around the world, just when I was hoping that we were heading into the home stretch. Ugh. The US is easing up on restrictions everywhere, and there’s NO WAY they’ll tighten again. My husband and I are still wearing masks when we go out to the grocery store, but the number of mask-wearers is dwindling fast. Thanks for keeping us informed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -sigh- the same is happening here, and it scares me more than I can say. It’s as if ‘everyone will get Omicron’ has become a self-fulfilling prophecy with governments the willing oracles. And us the guinea pigs. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ellen Buikema

    Wow!!
    The hubby and I are vaccinated and boosted, but this newer strain looks troublesome. I think we’ll go back to the KN95 masks.

    We had the early strain when we weren’t aware of the virus back in January of 2020 while living in the port city of MazatlΓ‘n in Mexico.

    Even with breakthrough Covid after the booster I’m concerned.

    Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Hi Ellen. I’d definitely recommend sticking with your masks for the foreseeable future. If BA.2 turns out to be a damp squib you’ve lost nothing but a bit of comfort. If it /is/ more virulent you don’t want to take any chances. -hugs-

      Like

  • Widdershins

    Well, fuck. 😦
    … loved your gallows humour lemming analogy in the comments. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  • K Morris Poet

    My understanding is that those who are fully vaccinated (have received 3 vaccine doses) have the same protection as pertains to the earlier version of Omicron. So yes the new variant is more infectious but for most of those who have received 3 doses of vaccine it is not more deadly. There will continue to be new variants of the virus for a very long time (possibly forever) so (unless we want society to collapse) we need to find a way of living with the virus. I recently read a long article on the telegraph.co.uk website regarding how the plague could return to western countries carried by fleas on rats. There are already instances in the developing world. One of the people quoted in the article said this could be the next big viral outbreak. I’m sure it could and obviously (so far as is possible) we need to guard against such a possibility, but we can’t (and shouldn’t) keep shutting down society and restricting individual freedom indefinitely as that will lead to a poorer quality of life for people as a whole. Best. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    • K Morris Poet

      Here is a link to the article on the Telegraph’s website https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/rise-of-the-rodent/. It is behind a paywall so readers who do not have a subscription to the paper may not be able to access it. Best. Kevin

      Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      The data is still not all there but from what I’ve read, two doses of vaccine does next to nothing for either original Omicron or the variant. A booster shot increases protection to somewhere between 60 and 70%. Sorry, don’t have the link for those numbers. Unfortunately, even ordinary Omicron is killing 3 dosed people who have underlying health problems. The Offspring and I are both immunocompromised, so even when the vaccines were working at their best – i.e. against the original covid and Delta, our protection was much less than for ‘normal’ people.
      I don’t know what percentage of the population is in the vulnerable category, but I can assure you that we’re already doing everything /we/ can to keep ourselves alive. And there are more of us than you think. Western society is not exactly fit and healthy. Throwing all of us under bus will have a financial impact on everyone.
      Plus there’s Long Covid.
      Plus there’s the psychological impact of fear. People who live in a constant state of fear don’t go out spending money and keeping businesses booming.
      Last but not least, a society that chooses to let some of its people die in order to keep others happy is a society that’s already dead.
      We all have to make adjustments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • K Morris Poet

        What adjustments exactly do people in your view need to make? If we take the example of young people wishing to find a partner just how are they expected to do this if social distancing remains in place?
        I understand the concern (in some cases fear) of those who are vulnerable. I have a friend whose girlfriend has Parkinsons and he is very careful about meeting people (we meet outside) for fear of passing on the virus to her. However there is also the social isolation and other health issues of the many who are not vulnerable that needs to be considered. These people also have important rights and freedoms which deserve to be respected.
        Of course a balance needs to be struck but those who advocate for continuing restrictions have a moral duty to explain just how long such restrictions ought (in their view) to remain in force. Its not acceptable to say that at some dim and distant point in the future people can once more live as free individuals.
        Best wishes. Kevin

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Hmm…I think I must be a LOT older than you, Kevin because I remember when the AIDs epidemic hit in the early 80’s. Suddenly we all had to think about who we had sex with. And most of us decided that no condom meant no sex.
          Beyond such simple precautions, there was always the fear that your committed partner, if you had one, might cheat on you and bring AIDs home to you.
          And before you ask, I’m hetero, but those thoughts went through my mind before I married my ex husband. In fact, the fear didn’t really abate until the treatment of AIDs turned it into a chronic disease instead of a death sentence.
          So…do I feel sorry for young people who can’t go clubbing to pick up partners for casual sex? No, sorry.
          As for how long certain restrictions – like mask wearing – should remain in place. Until the danger to me and to society in general has faded away.
          I’ve been in strict self-isolation for two years. You think you’ve got problems? I creak but I don’t dare go to the chiropractor. I’m terrified I’ll get toothache because I don’t dare go to the dentist. I hate packet bread but its currently too hot to decontaminate bakery bread in the oven. I’d kill for a latte, or to go to the supermarket and choose my own fruit and veg. Oh, and I’d love to see the rest of the family after two years of nothing but the odd phone conversation. A hair cut would be nice too.
          Do I feel bad at asking people to wear masks, wash their hands and keep their distance? What do you think?

          Liked by 1 person

          • K Morris Poet

            I turned 53 on 6 January so I do remember the AIDS epidemic. I also remember the misinformation surrounding it. For example that you could contract it merely by sitting on a toilet seat.
            There has to be trust in relationships and in society at large otherwise “things fall apart. the centre can not hold” as Yeats put it in The Second Coming.
            I was talking about dating as such, not casual sex although, of course dating can entail one night stands.
            I am sorry for the position you find yourself in and I accept that there are others in the same situation. I have type2 Diabetes and although I am no more likely to contract Corona than anyone else, if I get it and go into hospital I’m more likely to become seriously ill or die.
            I have had Corona at least once (possibly twice) and it was far from being a walk in the park. However, from my perspective there is a difference between living and merely existing. To live (for me) means meeting friends, walking in the woods and other normal human things. Staying at home would be merely to exist and I won’t do that as it is (for me) no real, meaningful life.
            As free individuals we have a right to make our own choices whilst, of course being considerate to others. But being considerate to others does not require state mandates.
            Some of the restrictions in the UK’S first lockdown where reminiscent of what one would expect in a Communist, Fascist or other similar regime. For example not being allowed guests in your own home or to see your partner (unless the latter lived with you or you with them). Good people supported these restrictions (I and many others felt profoundly uneasy). But we lost human liberty (a precious part of western civilisation) when such iliberal measures where brought in.
            Kevin

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            At 69 I’m definitely older than you. You must have been a child when AIDs went mainstream.
            Yes, there was a lot of disinformation and misinformation but that was because no one knew what was going on. There were also voices of reason who said that unless you had sex ON the toilet seat, you were unlikely to pass AIDs on to the next person who used the toilet.
            The point though is that the lack of definitive information did not make AIDs any less real. With Covid, people who aren’t experts in any field of science at all are saying that the pandemic isn’t even real. That it’s no worse than the ‘flu. That it’s some kind of global conspiracy to subjugate the masses.
            Comparing lockdowns and restrictions to a dictatorial regime like communism just made me laugh. I was born in Hungary and visited relatives in Budapest whilst Hungary was still part of the Eastern Bloc. You don’t have a clue. Sorry.
            As for the lockdowns you suffered…Mmm. I live in Melbourne, Australia, the city that’s been in lockdowns longer than any other place on earth. We had curfews, a cordon sanitaire to stop the virus escaping into the regions, 5 km restriction zones, no visitors in the home, and a swag of other restrictions. But you know what? We actually beat the virus and saved countless lives, not just in Melbourne but in greater Victoria and from there, the rest of Australia.
            I’m immensely proud of what my city/state accomplished. Because we put others /first/.
            As for personal liberty… Are you allowed to stab people with a knife? Shoot them with a gun? Run them over with a car? Poison them? Steal their money? Defraud them of what’s rightfully theirs? Of course not. We are not ‘at liberty’ to do any of those things. If we do them anyway, we face highly unpleasant consequences.
            Now I ask you, if we can’t do any of those things as individuals, why should we be entitled to do them as a society?
            Doing things to save lives is not being ‘considerate’. Opening the door for someone is being considerate. Not infecting someone with Covid and potentially killing them is not considerate, any more than not shooting someone is ‘considerate’.
            Protecting each other is the price we pay for living in a society that protects all of us.
            Once you start saying only some people have a right to live, you destroy the very thing that allows you to be free /within/ society.

            Like

  • Audrey Driscoll

    This morning I heard a guy who studies viruses (specifically those in the oceans; apparently they’re everywhere) say that when a host organism becomes too crowded and numerous, viruses are a mechanism to thin out and reduce the population. Makes you think, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -wince- Yes. Ultimately we’re animals too, something most of us prefer to forget. I don’t believe in a Gaia entity, but overcrowding, poor nutrition and elevated stress are all ingredients for virus soup. The thing that makes me mad is that we’ve had near misses but didn’t learn from them.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Matthew Wright

    The emergence of two variants of Omicron is a worry, especially if one’s worse – I guess to an extent the dice is re-rolled every time the virus mutates. I’ve found the whole issue of Omicron supposedly being ‘mild’ a bit ridiculous anyway – Covid is a serious disease and to call one variant ‘mild’ is like saying a kick in the guts is ‘milder’ than a kick in the head. Because of my own health issues it’s important I avoid getting it even after a triple vax dose.

    What worries me is the way the general public have tired of the necessary precautions: here in NZ, for instance, a poll showed that 30 percent of the population backed the Parliamentary occupation demanding all restrictions be lifted. Projections I’ve seen suggest Covid will continue to be a serious accompaniment to life for at least another 3 years, before a combination of evolution, vaccination and innate immunity brings the pandemic phase to an end – after which Covid will be endemic, of course, but i suppose placed in the same league as other serious diseases such as measles. So it will have an end-point. To me the current ‘I’ve had enough’ movement is a bit like Britain suddenly turning around in late 1941 and deciding they wouldn’t carry on fighting tyranny any more. And had that happened, we’d likely still be suffering the consequences. Gaaah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      I’m sorry to hear that, Matthew, especially as the sentiment echoes what’s so many are saying, and /doing/, here.
      Like you, the Offspring and I have health issues – we’re both immunocompromised but for different reasons. I’m not due my boost shot until the end of this month, but by all indications, it will be better than nothing, but far from a guarantee of health and life.
      We’ve been in almost total self-isolation since March 2020. I honestly don’t know how we’d survive without the internet. I fear we’re the vanguard of a segment of society that may never feel completely safe ‘outside’ again.
      And yes, the comparison to WWII is very apt. I shudder to think what would have happened to the people of London if they’d started pretending those bombs weren’t falling.
      What I can’t work out is why Western populations have become such…wimps.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Jacqui Murray

    I love that you clicked through to the source data (of course you did).

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      lol – stubborn /and/ curious. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jacqui Murray

        Remember the geek in my tech books, Eitan Sun? He didn’t like charts and graphs because he’d rather see the raw data and draw his own conclusions? I got that from a geek genius I know, but really, it’s me, too. And, it sounds like, you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          -grin- I LOVE Eitan. His ability to see patterns is his superpower. His diet though…he’s gonna die if he doesn’t start eating real food! -cough- maybe a salad every now and then?
          And yes, I think that being able to ‘see’ patterns is something we both do. I’ll be posting my review in the next day or so, but I have to tell you that my post today was inspired by 24. How the heck did you research so MUCH about weapons systems, and military procedures and…and…??????

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jacqui Murray

            Ha! You had me laughing! I’ll pass your advice on to Eitan.

            About the weapons research… My daughter served on the USS Bunker Hill so she toured me and arranged interviews with everyone right up to the Captain. That research was a highlight of my life.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            -grin- Please do. I’d like to have him around for a few books more. πŸ˜‰

            Aaaaah! Sorry, the penny just dropped. I have seen your book about your daughter’s military service but I haven’t read it. And I didn’t connect up the dots.
            All the way through 24, I’d find myself re-reading bits – none of which I properly understood – and marvelling at the depth and breadth of your knowledge.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Jacqui Murray

            My daughter–like you and I–has a curious mind. She was an excellent resource.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lol – now I’m going to have to read that book too, aren’t I?

            Liked by 1 person

  • CarolCooks2

    Jeez and just when we thought it was all “over” bar the shouting!

    Liked by 1 person

  • davidprosser

    you too please xxx

    Giant Virtual Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    This retirement community just basically removed all restrictions from a bunch of activities (though they want you to wear a mask at all times except while eating and drinking). Congregate dining started again yesterday.

    The timing seems atrocious – husband and I will not join them for the first two weeks. By then someone else will have taken the hit if there is one.

    They go by county regulations, and have the brains of hamsters.

    This is while the CDC is starting to recommend a fourth shot for immunocompromised people six months after the third shot, which, for me, would be in March, just around the corner. I will nag my doctor, as I did last time.

    I already have ME/CFS – vulnerable is my middle name.

    No mention in these stupid articles about opening up about the est. 10-30% of even asymptomatic cases of SURVIVORS who will end up with long covid. At the same time people WITH long covid are starting to find out how limited and weak the safety net is, and how little help the medical profession provides for us.

    Recipe for disaster – mark my words.

    It creates a huge stress load for me to carry every day – the rest of the world wants me dead, now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Damn… 😦 Has no one heard of the precautionary principle?
      Lemming #1 ‘ooh look, I see something green down there…last one down goes hungry!’
      Lemming #2 ‘ooh, no way I’m gonna be last. Yeeeeeeehhhaaa…..’
      Lemming #3,333 ‘I’m late, I’m late. Wait for meeeeeeee….splat’.
      I’m glad you’re being so cautious. Until we get more data on BA.2 we should all act as if it’s the Black Death. Which it may end up being. Why are humans so shortsighted? Rhetorical. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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