Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke suggested on Wednesday that the subvariant of Omicron present in Denmark, called BA.2, was even more contagious than the BA.1 strain, which currently accounts for 98% of all cases globally.
“There is no evidence that the BA.2 variant causes more disease, but it must be more contagious,” Heunicke told a news conference.
The BA.2 Covid subvariant could be 1.5 times more infectious than BA.1, according to estimates made by the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), Denmark’s top infectious disease authority.
“There is some indication that it is more contagious, especially for the unvaccinated, but that it can also infect people who have been vaccinated to a greater extent,” the SSI’s technical director, Tyra Grove Krause, said at the briefing.
She noted that, as a result, the current wave of infections will likely extend further into February than previously forecast.
The BA.2 subvariant has also been recorded in Britain, Sweden, and Norway, but is considerably less prevalent in those countries.
It has been registered as a variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency, which noted its capacity for growth. Initial analysis suggested it was not more likely to cause hospitalization than BA.1.
On Wednesday evening, Denmark also removed the last of its Covid-19 restrictions, saying it no longer considers the virus to be a “socially critical disease.”
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