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Two strains of Omicron from South Africa labelled ‘variants of concern’ by European health officials

Two strains of Omicron have been labelled ‘variants of concern’ for their ability to evade vaccines and are likely to dominate Europe’s Covid cases by the summer, health officials have warned. 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a report that variants BA4 and BA5 could lead to an uptick in cases across the continent, risking a surge in hospital and ICU pressure. 

The EU body is encouraging all countries to ‘remain vigilant’ for signs that the strains are emerging – while encouraging over 80s to receive a second booster jab. 

It also advised countries to put plans in place for over 60s and other vulnerable groups to receive a second booster. 

The BA4 and BA5 strains were first detected in South Africa in January and February of this year…

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