COVID-19 live updates: What do we know about Omicron’s ‘stealth variant’?

COVID-19 live updates: What do we know about Omicron’s ‘stealth variant’?

A new version of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, known as BA.2, has emerged. Although experts are unsure about its effects, they know that it is spreading quickly and has 20 mutations in the area that most COVID-19 vaccines target.

“Up until now, the overwhelmingly large majority of all Omicron cases has been BA.1. However, in some places, the BA.2 has emerged and has spread faster than BA.1,” Dr. Donald C. Vinh, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University, Canada, told Medical News Today.

Health authorities in the United Kingdom have declared that in the week starting January 31, they will start vaccinating children aged 5–11 years who are most at risk of severe COVID-19 or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed.

The COVID-19 vaccine offered to children in this cohort is a pediatric formulation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Children will receive it in two doses over 8 weeks. This will amount to one-third of the regular dose offered to adults.

“I would like parents and guardians to be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness had been met,” U.K. vaccines minister Maggie Throup has said.

“I encourage as many as possible to make sure they get their child the jab when contacted,” she added.

Yesterday, January 30, Qatar officially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 5–11 years.

This vaccination will be optional, and those who choose to receive it will do so in a two-dose regimen, with the doses administered at a 3-week interval.

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