As the United Kingdom is preparing to go into a major lockdown as early as next week just after Christmas unless things even worsen, scientists are already scrambling to uncover why there is a vast difference in what had happened in South Africa with regards to the Omicron and the way things are spiraling out of control in the United Kingdom with hospitals now being over run with daily new cases of COVID-19 infections.
Unknown to many, the United Kingdom has its own Omicron sub-lineage that is temporarily named as England/MILK-2D24AC9/2021. (Might be labelled at Omicron BA.3 in the future)
The variant of concern, has now three siblings – one up from two sub-lineages discovered last week.
According to Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak Lineages ( ) that assigns lineages under ‘Pango lineage’ system to various viruses including the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, the third outlier of Omicron was found from a sample collected from England on December 3. The new outlier of is temporarilynamed England/MILK-2D24AC9/2021.
Dr Vinod Scaria of Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi,confirmed the development by tweeting late on Sunday about the new outlier of Omicron lineage with some shared mutations.
Omicron variant or B.1.1.529 split into two sub-lineages BA.1 and BA.2 earlier this month.
These two variants have some shared mutations, besides some mutations that are unique to them. “A new diverse genome has appeared within the B.1.1.529 lineage that has all of the shared mutations of B.1.1.529, some of the mutations unique to BA.1 and some unique to BA.2 plus a few of its own,” PANGOLIN announced in its website.
It added it seems likely the new Omicron outlier is an additional circulating member of B.1.1.529 diversity and recombination has occurred in its history. It also said it “may have mutated prior to emergence of BA.1 clade based on pattern of mutations.”
It said, “as a single genome it doesn’t yet require a lineage designation and at the moment it will be classified as a member of Omicron”.
Experts say though Omicron has been spreading faster than previous variants, most cases are mild.