COVID: US scientists monitor cases of the new subvariant of Omicron BA.2
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The infections of COVID-19 caused by the new subvariant of Omicron called BA.2 that they have called the "sneaky variant" of the coronavirusare already being detected in many countries, including in U.Sand scientists are studying it to detect what may be the differences with respect to the original variant of Omicron.
It has been called stealthy for one of its main differences from the original Omicron variant: the original Omicron variant was relatively easy to track due to a specific quirk, the deletion of a spike gene, which made it stand out in the widely used PCR tests without the need for further testing. But the new BA.2 variant does not seem to have this feature and is more difficult to monitor.
The evolution of subvariants of COVID-19 is not new. The delta variant also had several subvariants, but the scientists referred to all of them as delta.
Ómicron's BA.2 sub-variant, however, has earned its own designation due to the increase in cases in several nations.
What does the WHO say
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that BA.2 is not a “variant of concern”meaning there is no current evidence to suggest that this new subvariant will worsen COVID-19 transmission, disease severity, or the efficacy of vaccines and public health efforts to prevent spread such as masking and distancing social, according to ABC News.
BA.2 numbers around the world are rising, with at least 40 countries reporting cases to a global variant tracking database, but the subvariant has spread rapidly in Denmark and the UK, with nearly half of recent cases in Denmark attributed to BA.2.
While more than 8,000 cases of BA.2 have been identified in the world as of November 2021, it is not clear where it originated. Although the first sequences were reported from the Philippines, since then numerous cases have been detected in various places, from Europe to South Asia.
Given the rising numbers, health care organizations such as the WHO are asking scientists to observe and study the new subvariant so they can define their differences.
In United States
The new variant of Ómicron BA.2 has already been detected in the United States.
Washington state confirmed two cases on Monday. There are 11 confirmed cases in California, with two in Santa Clara County, where health officials say little is known about the new variantaccording to ABC 7.
Federal data shows an 8% drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the country in the past week.
California's seven-day positivity rate has dropped. It is at 19.6%, which is 1.7% less than a week ago.
But health authorities warn that stay alert in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic that cannot be predicted.
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