A genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 virus is carried out in Cyprus and 194 samples were identified as Omicron, while 3 sequences of BQ.1 were identified, the Ministry of Health said Monday, adding that at the moment the numbers of BQ.1 are low.
The Ministry’s statement says that between September 1, 2022 to October 15, 2022, 194 samples identified as Omicron (B.1.1.529), were successfully sequenced. Of these samples, 4 (2.1%) were identified as BA.2, 1 (0.5%) as BA.4 and 189 (97.4%) as BA.5.
Some subvariants, the statement says, have been identified and are still under monitoring, according to the World Health Organization. More specifically, 3 sequences of BQ.1 and its subvariants, 10 sequences of BF.7 and its subvariants, 1 sequence of BN1.3 which is an evolutionary subvariant of BA.2.75, 1 sequence of BA.4.6 and 3 sequences of BA were identified.
The Genomic Surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Cyprus in under the aegis of the Epidemiological Surveillance and Control of Infectious Diseases Unit. Random and/or targeted samples are screened weekly, the Ministry said.
It is pointed out that BQ.1, including its evolutionary subvariants, has been selected by the ECDC as a Variant of interest since October 20, 2022 and has already been detected, at significant numbers, in various states. ECDC modeling estimates show that it is expected that the rate of BQ.1 is likely to increase over the next period, across Europe.
Based on the data available so far, there is no evidence that BQ.1 is associated with greater severity of infection than the circulating BA.4/BA.5 variants.
Health Ministry also said that all approved vaccines currently available in Cyprus protect against serious illness and death, against all known variants. Also, all available antiviral drugs continue to be effective if they are administered in time, they reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of hospitalization.