BA.2: Super spreader variant of Covid-19 discovered in Kenya

This strain is more transmissible than all of the other strains of Covid-19.

A medical officer takes a sample for the COVID-19 coronavirus at the laboratory of Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) where they have capacity to test 384 samples per day in Kisumu, western Kenya, on April 23, 2020. - KEMRI (Photo by Brian ONGORO / AFP) (Photo by BRIAN ONGORO/AFP via Getty Images)

BA.2, a new 'stealth' sub-variant of Omicron has been detected in Kenya just a day after the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe set a target to vaccinate 1 million people daily.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the strain has been detected in four other African countries and 52 more, globally. BA.2 now accounts for about a tenth of Sars-Cov-2 genome sequences uploaded to the global repository, GISAID.

"BA.2 has been reported in five countries, that is Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal as well as South Africa," Dr Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, WHO Regional Office for Africa stated at a recent press conference.

GISAID is a global science initiative and a primary source established in 2008 which provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronaviruses responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Omicron subsided, Covid-19 cases in Africa dropped by 15% compared with the week before, while deaths falling slightly by 5%, WHO relayed in a release. With BA.2 also spreading, interestingly, there has been no noticeable difference in disease severity.

WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned, earlier yesterday, that it is 'premature' for nations to either declare victory over the COVID-19 pandemic or lift the restrictions to halt its transmission.

“This virus is dangerous, and it continues to evolve before our very eyes,” the WHO chief had added.

Notably, Tedros' remarks came after Denmark became the first European Union (EU) nation to lift all of its domestic curbs placed to stem Covid-19.

On Thursday, Kagwe and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi unveiled a rapid results vaccination campaign to reach 70% of Kenyans.

"The drive aims to create strong herd immunity against Covid-19 and its variants," stated the Interior Ministry, which is set to mobilize resources for public education to bolster the exercise.

Kagwe termed the campaign as critical saying mass vaccination will go a long way in supporting the government's efforts to keep the country's economy open.

"Today marks an important occasion as we have partners who have come through to support us through mass vaccination drive," Kagwe said, even as he urged Kenyans to get vaccinated to avoid hospitalization due to serious illness.

Kagwe made the remarks during a public meeting in Dagoretti where he launched the campaign accompanied by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director-General Mohamed Mbadi.

Kenya has received a total of 24.6 million vaccines out of which 12.4 million have been administered.

A total of 5.7 million Kenyans have been fully vaccinated having received the complete dose which entails two shots for some vaccines including Moderna and AstraZeneca. Another 6.6 million Kenyans have received a single dose and a due for the second.

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