While it hasn’t been declared a variant of concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned about the transmissibility of the most recent COVID-19 variant, the Omicron BA.2. Since it was identified in late January this year, the subvariant has continued spreading waves of infection.
As per the CDC’s recent report, the BA.2 strain now accounts for 75% of all U.S. cases, making it evident that it is slowly gaining a foothold. Among the states where BA.2 is more dominant include New York City, where an uptick of associated cases was reported by the Department of Public Health.
BA.2 Suspected to be More Transmissible Than Mother Strain
BA.2 is a subvariant of the latest variant of concern, Omicron, otherwise known as the BA.2.12.1. Before BA.2, Omicron was hailed as the most transmissible COVID-19 variant, with a transmission rate of 105% more than its descendant, Delta.
Now, Omicron falls to second place in terms of transmissibility level, as BA.2 is suspected to be 23 to 27% more transmissible than its mother strain. According to microbiology and immunology professor, John Moore, scientists should expect every succeeding variant to be more transmissible than its predecessor as the virus continues to mutate.
Is BA.2 More Severe?
While the transmissibility rate of BA.2 has been confirmed, there is yet to be more uncovered about its severity. With its mother strain, Omicron, being less severe than delta and other past variants, scientists are optimistic that BA.2 will share the same characteristics.
Although a recent Hong Kong study has revealed that BA.2 may affect the vulnerable population, including children, it has yet to be supported or scrutinized by other medical studies and publications.
While more research needs to be done to determine BA.2’s severity, scientists, doctors, and health officials are all recommending the same things to protect yourself against the new variant: mask-wearing and vaccination. Wearing a mask reduces exposure to viral particles and can prevent infection. On the other hand, vaccination can protect against severe symptoms and fatalities.