Mayo Clinic experts discuss BA 2 variant of COVID-19

The World Health Organization designated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, named omicron, a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26, 2021, and the first confirmed case in the U.S. was on Dec. 1, 2021. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified two sub variants, BA.1.1 and BA.2.  Dr. Jack O’Horo, Infectious Disease Specialist with Mayo Clinic spoke with KAUS News and other media outlets during a press briefing on the new variant and stated that vaccines will still remain important, and he added that whether the new variant means a larger or smaller increase in cases remains to be seen…

Dr. Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic stated that studies have shown that the BA 2 variant has what’s termed as a growth advantage, or a higher transmission rate over prior COVID variants…

According to the CDC, BA.2, the third classified omicron subvariant in the U.S., is quickly accounting for more and more COVID-19 cases. It is rapidly spreading, accounting for 55% of all U.S. cases at the end of March, up from 7.4% of cases at the end of February.  The CDC went on to report that all omicron sub variants, including BA.2, are characterized as potentially more transmissible than previous strains such as delta, though generally cause less severe disease and fewer hospitalizations and deaths.  However, people who have not been vaccinated or who have not received a booster may still be at risk of severe illness with omicron variants.

Clinical data on BA.2 is not yet available in the U.S., as the first cases were identified in the last couple months.

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