what do we know about the BA.4.6 sub-variant of Omicron?


  • Immunocompromised people should be more cautious about this subvariant, the scientists advise.
  • Covid-19 contaminations have increased by 50 to 70% every week in France since the beginning of September.

The sub-variants of Omicron follow each other… But are they alike?

This is the question that experts are currently asking themselves in the face of the detection of the BA.4.6 sub-lineage which has not yet revealed all its secrets.

Omicron: BA.4.6 sub-variant is very contagious

Spotted in France for the first time in June, it represents 11% of new contaminations in the United Kingdom (a percentage which has tripled in one month) and 61% in the United States, according to the health authorities (CDC).

Although in France the dominant sub-variant remains BA.5, which represents more than 90% of contaminations since mid-July, this new sub-variant could settle in France with a dangerousness that it is for the impossible to predict – even if being a “descendant of Omicron” it would be less lethal than a sub-variant of Delta.

Nevertheless, we know that versions of the Covid-19 virus, which has already mutated hundreds of thousands of times, manage to supplant the others because they are much more transmissible, which exposes more people to contamination at this level. new subvariant.

New Covid vaccines will be effective against BA.4.6

This is all the more worrying because it has a characteristic, says Manal Mohamed, a microbiologist at the University of Westminster in The Conversation :

BA.4.6 will be similar to BA.4 in many ways, but carries a spike protein mutation […]. This R346T mutation has been observed in other variants and is associated with immune evasion. Which means it helps the virus escape antibodies acquired during vaccination and previous infection.”continues the researcher.

According to a study published in September by researchers at the University of Oxford, the production of antibodies would be further reduced with BA.4.6, which could however be solved with the upcoming arrival in Europe of vaccines adapted specifically against Omicron.

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