A new coronavirus variant labeled BA.2 is now getting attention from medical experts and scientists around the world.
Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, assistant professor of medicine for infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said, “Among all the lineages of Omicron, this is the one showing a higher increase of cases. But we have to be careful in interpreting that, because higher increases from a very low number are easier to observe.”
There hasn’t been any evidence that BA.2 causes any more severe symptoms of the disease, nor does it spread more easily. Additionally, UK health officials have published a report that suggests that the vaccines provide protection about as well as against Omicron.
While the BA.2 variant was discovered in December, it is now starting to gain ground in a few countries, Denmark in particular. Half of all new Covid-19 cases are attributed to the BA.2 variant. In India the dominant strain there is now the BA.2 variant. The variant is spreading in the US as well but it is for now deemed as not a cause for concern. Roughly 100 cases from the BA.2 variant have been reported in the US.
Dr. Wesley Long, medical director of microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas said out of 4,000 genomes sequenced since the beginning of the year, they have only found three cases of the BA.2 variant. Long says it is difficult to tell why the variant might be taking hold in some countries more than others. “It could be that it has some kind of advantage over the original Omicron variant, or perhaps both BA.1 and BA.2 were introduced around the same time, so they were able to spread at about the same rate.” Either way, Long says it is too early to tell whether or not BA.2 will take off in the US like it has in India and Denmark.
These new variants now are to be expected. Viruses mutate and adapt. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan said “I’d be very surprised, with the current state of the global population in terms of immune status, if we didn’t see more variants emerge.”
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