The Ministry of Health informs in a statement that a Genomic Surveillance system of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is operating in Cyprus under the coordination of the Epidemiological Surveillance and Control of Infectious Diseases Unit. Through the system, random and/or targeted samples are screened weekly by whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.
For the period 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.
In particular, among these strains, some sub-strains have been identified that are under monitoring according to the World Health Organization (Variant under Monitoring, VUM). Specifically, 3 sequences of BQ1 and its evolutionary substrains, 10 sequences of BF.7 and its evolutionary substrains, 1 sequence of BN1.3 which is an evolutionary substrain of BA.2.75, 1 sequence of BA.4.6 and 3 sequences of BA were identified. .2.3.20.
BQ.1, including its evolutionary substrains, has been designated by the ECDC as a Variant of interest (VOI) since 20 October 2022 and has already been detected at significant levels in several Member States. However, it is noted that the levels of BQ.1 in our country remain at a given moment at low levels.
From ECDC modeling estimates, 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 variants BA.4/BA.5.”
It is emphasized that all approved vaccines available today in Cyprus protect against serious illness and death against all known variants.
In addition, it is recalled that the available antiviral drugs continue to be effective if they are administered in time, reducing the severity of symptoms and, by extension, the risk of hospitalization.