What is BA.2, the ‘Stealth Omicron’ variant

the Variable Omicron It quickly took over as the main driver of COVID-19 infection in the United States shortly after it was named as a variable of concern in late November by the World Health Organization. But a subtype of Omicron, called BA.2 or “Stealth Omicron,” has also been making waves lately.

according to CNBC report, BA.2 has caused at least 127 cases of COVID-19 in at least half of the states in the United States, but it is spreading more rapidly in other regions. In Denmark, for example, BA.2 is responsible for nearly half of the country’s COVID-19 cases, according to a government research institute. Serum Statins Institute.

While US public health officials keep their eyes on the cryptic Omicron, they aren’t sounding the alarm just yet – they are focusing heavily on the major Omicron strain and beyond. OMICRON SYMPTOMS Traded in the United States, aka BA.1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokeswoman Kristen Nordlung saidWashington Post Last week, “There is currently insufficient data to determine whether strain BA.2 is more transmissible or has a fitness advantage over strain BA.1.”

But what is BA.2, what are its symptoms, and how contagious is it? Infectious disease experts break it down.

What is BA.2, or Stealth Omicron?

Omicron has branched out into three strains, explains Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chair of the division of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York: BA 1, BA 2, and BA 3. Because BA.1 has spread as quickly as it can worldwide, it has It got the most attention, says Dr. Russo — but BA.2 is starting to gain traction, too. (BA.3, which is very rare, It seems that A mixture of BA.1 and BA.2 infected the same person at the same time, jamming their viral genes in the process.)

Not much is known about BA.2 at the moment, but Who is the He says it has some differences from BA.1, including some changes in the spike protein, which is what the virus uses to infect your cells. BA.2, though, is “increasing in many countries,” says the World Health Organization online. “Investigations into BA.2 properties, including immune-escaping and virulence properties, should be prioritized independently (relatively) of BA.1,” the agency added.

As for the “hidden Omicron” moniker, experts say it’s not entirely accurate. Dr. Russo explains that BA.1, also known as the Omicron that people largely track, is missing one of the three target genes used in the standard PCR test. Therefore, when doctors look at test results, they are usually able to see that someone has the Omicron variant just by detecting the absence of that specific target gene.

But BA.2 does not contain a specific mutation on the spike protein that would cause this specific target gene to fail the PCR test. As a result, some people are starting to call it “the cryptic Omicron,” even though PCR tests will still be positive for COVID-19 and show all three target genes as they did before the appearance of Omicron. FWIW, it’s a controversial title that not everyone shares. Infectious disease expert Amish A.

What are the symptoms of BA.2?

So far, it appears to be “fairly consistent with known COVID symptoms and indistinguishable from BA.1,” says Dr. Adalja. according to Center for Disease ControlThese symptoms include:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of sense of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

    However, a CDC . Report It was found in mid-December that Omicron in general appears to cause these symptoms:

    • cough
    • fatigue
    • Crowding
    • Runny nose

      How transferable is BA.2?

      Research into BA.2 and its contagion is still ongoing, but “BA.2 is likely to be more transmissible than BA.1 based on it displacing BA.1 in certain geographic areas,” says Dr. Adalja. “There will always be an evolution of this virus towards increased transmissibility,” he adds.

      One Analytics BA 2 conducted by the British government found that the variant spreads faster than BA.1 because it is more transferable. However, it still represents a very small portion of COVID-19 cases in that country — and in the United States

      “There is some suggestion that BA.1 may be slightly more transmissible than Omicron, but at this point, it does not appear to cause any more or less serious disease,” says Dr. Russo.

      How worried are you about BA.2?

      Experts say that you should not focus on this alternative. Dr. says. This means that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (and getting a booster shot when you qualify) and wearing a mask indoors will help protect you from it.

      Dr. Russo does not expect that Omicron’s recent wave of COVID-19 cases will increase much by BA.2. “It’s not as if this variant has increased ability to evade vaccine-induced immunity,” he says. “I also expect that there will be a lot of protection with BA.2 if you have BA.1. I don’t see that moving the dial up significantly in terms of posing a huge new problem.”

      He adds, “There is not the same level of concern that we had with Omicron with BA.1.”

      Dr. Adalja agrees. “BA.2 may extend the Omicron wave a little bit longer, but I don’t think it changes the general course of the epidemic,” he says.

      This article is accurate to the time of publication. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus, some information may have changed since its last update. While we aim to keep all of our stories updated, please visit the online resources provided by Center for Disease ControlAnd Who is the, and yours local public health department To stay informed of the latest news. Always speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.


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