The variant was found after an additional study by RIVM in collaboration with knowledge center Saltro. The test sample was taken on April 11. The variant has not yet occurred in the RIVM’s weekly sample. As a result, it seems that the variant has not yet spread more widely in the Netherlands. The institute examines about 1500 test samples every week for possible changes in the corona virus.
Variants of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, have been previously identified by the WHO in Germany, Denmark and southern Africa. In the Netherlands we are currently mainly dealing with the BA.2 variant. The genetic material of the BA.5 variant is different, which can be seen, among other things, on the ‘spikes’ of the coronavirus. These spikes are precisely the recognition point for the immune system of people. According to the RIVM, it is still being investigated whether this variant is therefore better or worse for the immune system to recognize.
Virologist Marion Koopmans was already concerned about BA.4 and BA.5. According to Koopmans, the fact that the variants have gained the upper hand in parts of South Africa means that they are ‘fitter’ than other variants. Vaccines may not work as well against the omicron variants.