Mar 24, 2022 - Health

WHO: Omicron subvariant is now the dominant strain worldwide

Commuters arrive at Waterloo station during morning rush hour as all of England's remaining Covid restrictions are set to end later this week on February 22, 2022 in London, England.
Commuters arrive at Waterloo station on Feb. 22 in London. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The highly contagious Omicron subvariant, BA.2, is now the dominant Omicron variant around the world, the World Health Organization said this week.

Driving the news: BA.2 made up about 86% of cases reported to the WHO between Feb. 16 and March 17, the agency said in a report.

  • The previously dominant subvariants, BA.1.1 and BA.1, together represent less than 15% of cases globally.
  • Less than three weeks ago, BA.2 made up 34% of new cases and the BA.1.1 subvariant of Omicron was dominant, according to a WHO report published on March 8.
  • "After a consistent decrease since the end of January 2022, the number of new weekly cases rose for a second consecutive week," the agency wrote in the report out Tuesday.

The big picture: The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron makes up over a third of all COVID-19 variants in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week.

  • The BA.2 subvariant, which is believed to be more transmissible than the original Omicron strain, has spurred a resurgence of new cases in Asia and Europe.

Go deeper: CDC says Omicron subvariant accounts for 35% of all COVID variants in U.S.

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