Omicron BA.2 variant behind Covid resurgence

The highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron, known as BA.2, is now the dominant Covid strain, sending the number of cases surging once again in Monaco and the world.

After peaking at 2,157 in the third week of January and driven by the highly contagious Omicron BA.1 variant, the circulation of Covid in Monaco then fell as quickly as it had risen.

However, figures on Monday show that the incidence rate in the Principality now stands at 1,050, compared to 422 in the first week of March.

Meanwhile, of the 3,500 PCR and antigen tests conducted in Monaco from 21st to 27th March, a record 20.39% came back positive.

Analysis shows that the new Omicron subvariant, BA.2, is behind the resurgence.

Monaco Life has been informed that BA.2 now represents more than 80% of all sequenced cases in the Principality, while the World Health Organisation puts the global figure at 86%.

While it is even more transmissible than its highly contagious Omicron siblings, BA.1 and BA.1.1, the evidence so far suggests that it is no more likely to cause severe disease.

But as case numbers rise, the Princess Grace Hospital Centre has seen a corresponding increase in the number of Covid patients. Currently, there are 26 seeking care, nine of whom are residents, while one person is in ICU.

As with the other variants in the Omicron family, vaccines are less effective against BA.2 than previous variants, and protection declines over time. However, according to UK Health Security Agency data, a booster jab is still effective at preventing hospitalisation and death.

In Monaco, 71.6% of the population aged over 12 have completed a full vaccination schedule. The latest Covid report from IMSEE shows that coverage is highest amongst those aged 54 to 64 at 82%, while 95% of the population aged 75 and over are considered fully vaccinated.