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BA.2 COVID Variant: Here’s what you need to know

The new COVID variant, first detected two months ago, has spread throughout the United States and more rapidly in the northeast and west. The new data released this week shows.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.2 mutants have nearly doubled each week last month and appear to be becoming the leading COVID strains.

BA.2 is considered by the World Health Organization to be a “subspecies” of the highly contagious subspecies of Omicron. This is a different version of Omicron than BA.1, which caused the surge that hit the northeast at the end of last year.

It was initially called a “stealth variant” because it has a different gene sequence from BA.1 and was not easy to detect.

According to the CDC, the leading cause of infections worldwide is the BA.2 version of Omicron. In the United States, BA.2 accounts for about a quarter (23.1%) of cases in the week leading up to March 12. 14.2% of the week until March 5th.

How fast is BA.2 spreading in the United States?

According to the CDC, BA.2 accounted for 39% of cases in New Jersey and New York, and the week ending March 12 increased from 25.4% in the previous week (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are also included in the CDC in the region. ) Breakdown of COVID cases. )

In the northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont), BA.2 accounted for 38.6% of cases, up from 24% last week, according to the CDC.

In the West, including Arizona and Nevada, California, BA.2 accounted for 27.7% of cases, up from 17.1% last week. In the West, including Alaska, Aidaho, Oregon, and Washington, BA.2 accounted for 26.2. According to the CDC, the proportion of cases has increased from 16%.

Cases of BA.2 have increased in the last few weeks in other parts of the United States, accounting for 12% to 20% of cases in other states for the week ending March 12.

Will BA.2 spread faster? Is it more deadly?

Studies have shown that BA.2 is “intrinsically more contagious” than Omicron BA.1, according to the World Health Organization.

What is not yet known is whether BA.2 caused the same serious illness as Omicron BA.1 and then plummeted after a month of surges in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. How is it?

Infectious Disease Research Center and University of Minnesota Policy.

Stephanie Sylvera, an infectious disease specialist at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, said: .. “

What is the impact on BA.2.

So far, BA.2 does not appear to have a noticeable impact, but public health officials say they are closely monitoring its spread.

Key COVID indicators such as cases, hospitalizations, and mortality continue to decline almost every day, fluctuating around the levels last seen in July before the delta variant surge.

After more than 3,000 deaths daily in most of January and February, the daily death toll in March ranged from 1,685 to 2,076.

The plunge indicators have led to the removal of state mask obligations that authorities believe will return to normal in schools and public buildings.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Thursday that he expects more incidents in the state due to the surge seen in parts of Asia and Europe, but “universal protection mandated across the state. He said he did not expect the “measures” to be revived.

However, health officials are not sure what BA.2 will do.

Dr. Tinatan, an epidemiologist in New Jersey, said: BA.2 leads to increased hospitalization or death at this time. “

Are vaccines and innate immunity effective against BA.2.

British scientists have shown that the vaccine is effective against both BA.2 and Omicron BA.1. In short, vaccines may not be able to prevent infection, but they are effective in financing severe illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization, if you are infected with Omicron BA.1, you may also be well protected against BA.2.

Reinfection is possible, but studies suggest that infection with BA.1 “provides strong protection” against reinfection with BA.2.

Hundreds of thousands of infections in Omicron’s booming New Jersey “suggest that many residents may have some protection against BA.2,” Tan said. rice field.

What’s happening in other parts of the globe?

Case numbers have increased in the last few weeks in parts of Europe and Asia, but it is not yet clear how responsible BA.2 is.

The UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy have been on the rise last week, and many European countries are beginning to treat the virus as part of their daily lives and are about to shut down altogether.

China ordered the blockade of residents of Changchun, closed schools in Shanghai, and urged the people to stay in Beijing last weekend in a new surge.

Hong Kong has seen its worst surge in recent weeks after limiting the spread of COVID for almost two years with some of the world’s toughest health obligations. Hong Kong has reported more than 700,000 COVID-19 infections and approximately 4,200 deaths in the past. Three weeks, according to Reuters.

Will other variants appear?

The more times the virus replicates, as seen in Delta and Omicron, the more likely it is that the virus will have to mutate into a stronger strain.

As a result, some public health experts are worried about the recent surge in Asia and elsewhere.

“I’m more worried that the pure biomass of the virus in these places that are currently experiencing the octopus wave will lead to the emergence of new strains that we haven’t yet experienced in the United States,” said the infected. Daniel Parker said a sickness expert at the University of California, Irvine. “If you look at it in Delta or Omicron, it can certainly lead to spikes.”

Read more at usatoday.com

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