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Three new Omicron Covid variants are detected in Australia

Here we go again: Three new Omicron strains make landfall in Australia – this is what we know about them so far

  • New BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 variants have been detected in Australia
  • The Omicron sub-variants have seen a spike in cases in South Africa and the US
  • The strains are not yet believed to be more severe than previous variants 

Three new Covid sub-variants of Omicron have made their way to Australia.

The new strains – known as BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 – have each been detected Down Under and have recently caused a surge in cases in South Africa and the US.

All three variants have been detected in NSW, while South Australia has seen infections from the BA.4 and BA.5 strains.

The sub-lineages have also been detected in Europe, the UK and the US and appear to be more transmissible. But there isn’t any evidence to suggest they are more severe.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the quick spread in other countries didn’t mean the same would happen in Australia.

The new strains known as BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected Down Under, and have caused a surge in cases in South Africa and the US (pictured is cafe worker in Perth)

‘We are preparing that there will be future waves, but it may be a different variant to BA.4 or BA.5,’ she said. 

Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett said it was likely the booster vaccine would offer protection against the new strains as to what was seen with Omicron and earlier sub-variants.

She added that due to high levels of infection in Australia, it was possible this would offer more immunity against contracting the BA.4 and BA.5 variants ahead of the winter months.

‘We expect less hospitalisations now,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We know winter increases the risk for respiratory infections and if we have a virus that doesn’t need winter to spread, as we have seen with Omicron in summer, we might see a pick up in cases.

‘(Although) we have seen so many recent infections and given that, it might take the sting out of winter.’ 

The sub-lineages have also been detected in Europe, the UK and the US and appear to be more transmissible but there isn't any evidence to suggest they are more severe

The sub-lineages have also been detected in Europe, the UK and the US and appear to be more transmissible but there isn’t any evidence to suggest they are more severe

University of Melbourne epidemiologist James McCaw earlier warned the rise of new variants meant people who had been struck down with Covid-19 could be reinfected. 

‘We will get reinfected, and we are most likely to be reinfected by new versions of the virus which are immunologically different,’ he told Sydney Morning Herald.

‘It’s going to happen more and more because it’s the only way for the virus to establish itself. It will be around forever because of reinfections.’

Stuart Turville, a virologist at the Kirby Institute said it was possible new variants could ‘take the edge off the potency’ of antibodies that people may have had from vaccines and recent infections.

‘This is not unlike what we have seen before where variants emerge with small changes that made them more competitive in breaking through our pre-existing antibody defences or being more transmissible,’ Mr Turville said.

NSW Health also revealed that more than 11,000 residents have contracted Covid for a second time, and half of these were positive twice in the past six months.

NSW Health also revealed that more than 11,000 residents have contracted Covid for a second time, and half of these were positive twice in the past six months (pictured at Sydney Domestic Airport)

NSW Health also revealed that more than 11,000 residents have contracted Covid for a second time, and half of these were positive twice in the past six months (pictured at Sydney Domestic Airport)

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk