With Omicron’s huge surge in coronavirus cases now dwindling in the United States and many other countries, reports have recently appeared in many newspapers of a disturbing new version of Omicron – an extra variable called BA.2 – and the threats it can pose.
Here are some key things to understand about BA.2 and what we know so far.
It’s not really new.
Scientists soon learned later Omicron variant It was first discovered in November that it has three genetically distinct varieties. They focused on BA.1, because it was about 1,000 times more popular than BA.2 at first; the third subvariable is still rarer. It was BA.1 that first broke out and raced around the world, while BA.2 took longer to become important, but both have been on the radar of scientists from the very beginning. head.
It seems to be easier to catch.
All types of Omicron are very contagious, which is why Omicron quickly overwhelmed earlier variants like Delta and caused a huge increase globally. But preliminary studies suggest that BA.2 is even more transmissible than BA.1. It has become the dominant form of Omicron in some countries and is gaining ground in others. Its greater-than-potential transmission has raised some concerns that BA.2 could cause a new spike or possibly prolong the current one, but the jury is still out on whether that will. whether it is likely to happen or not.
It doesn’t seem more serious.
An important feature of an Omicron surge is that if you are infected with the variant, your odds of severe illness, hospitalization, or death are significantly lower than those of Delta or previous variants. Studies to date, including a new study from South Africa, shown BA.2 is no different from BA.1 in that regard.
Existing vaccines are active against it.
Although it is known that Omicron is generally somewhat better than other variants at causing “breakthrough” infections in vaccinated individuals, the vaccine still provides significant protection against infection and very strong protection against severe disease. Enhanced shot provides stronger protection. And again, BA.2 doesn’t seem to change any of that: British researchers found recently that the vaccine was equally effective against both Omicron sub-variants.
Omicron is also somewhat better than other variants at disrupting “natural” immunity from previous infections, and some concerns have been raised that BA.2 might do the trick. same with people who got BA.1 during an Omicron surge. While refinishing like this reportedthey are so far extremely rare even in countries where BA.2 is now popular.
Its nickname ‘stealth variant’ is outdated.
BA.2 is nicknamed the “stealth variant” because initially, when the challenge for researchers was to distinguish the Omicron cases from those of Delta and other variants, BA.2 did not show up in PCR-positive samples the way BA.1 did, through a mutation that masked one of the three coronavirus genes the tests detected. However, now that the majority of positive tests are related to Omicron, the missing mutation can render BA.2 completely invisible, standing out from the BA.1 cases in the PCR test.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/americas/stealth-omicron-ba2-variant.html Everything you need to know about Omicron’s new BA.2 variant