New Omicron Subvariant Found in Korea

  • By Park Se-mi

    May 04, 2022 09:37

    A new offshoot of the BA.2 stealth Omicron variant of COVID-19 that is spreading rapidly in the U.S. has been found in Korea for the first time.

    The appearance of BA.2.12.1 could dampen the country's return to normal after two years of crippling restrictions if it turns out that the subvariant is dangerous.

    A woman in her 50s who had her booster shot arrived from the U.S. on April 16 and tested positive for the subvariant the following day. "She had no particular symptoms," health authorities said Tuesday. "None of 16 people who came into contact with her have tested positive either."


    The BA.2 variant is about 1.3 times more transmissible than the original Omicron strain. BA.2.12.1 is in turn said to be about 23 to 27 percent more transmissible than BA.2. But the symptoms seem milder.

    Another surge in new COVID infections in the U.S. has been attributed to BA.2.12.1, which began to spread around the world in March after it was first detected there last December.

    BA.2.12.1 has been spreading 1.5 to two times faster each week in the U.S. to make up an estimated 28.2 percent of all cases there as of April 27. BA.2 accounts for 68.5 percent.

    Meanwhile, the daily tally of new infections stood at 49,064, as of Wednesday morning.

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