The southern region of Vietnam has detected the BA.2.12.1 subvariant of the Omicron, which is 1.8 times more likely to escape immunity than the BA.2 lineage, the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City said on Thursday.
The institute made the statement during a meeting held online by the Ministry of Health on the afternoon of the day.
The number of new COVID-19 cases has been on the rise in the last two to three weeks and is projected to reach 400,000-500,000 infections a month, according to Ngu Duy Nghia, head of the department of communicable disease control at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
New infections have been recorded in all 28 northern provinces and cities, with Hanoi dominating the caseload.
All these cases were caused by the Omicron variant.
Among the 28 localities, the Vietnamese capital city accounted for the highest number out of 3,133 deaths caused by the virus in the northern region in the first six months of this year.
A representative of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City said that 30 recently-sequenced samples proved the existence of the BA.2.12.1 subvariant among infections documented in the southern region, after the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages.
The BA.2.12.1 subvariant, together with the BA.4 and BA.5, was responsible for 70 percent of the 30 infections, while the BA.2 lineage caused the remaining 30 percent.
The Pasteur Institute representative noted that the BA.2.12.1 subvariant is 1.8 times more immunity-invasive than the BA.2 and emphasized the importance of vaccination.
The BA. 2.12. 1 was once the dominant form among new U.S. virus cases in May, when the States averaged more than 100,000 confirmed infections per day, according to The New York Times.