What do you need to know about the subvariant ‘stealth omicron?’

Stealth omicron rendering.
Stealth omicron rendering. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

A spinoff that nobody wanted in 2022 was a new version of the COVID-19 omicron variant. But now, an omicron subvariant, BA.2, has been detected in 40 countries, with nearly 100 confirmed cases in the U.S.

The World Health Organization has warned that the sub-variant BA.2 is even more infectious than the initial strain of omicron and “is increasing in many countries.”

But what do you need to know about this new substrain of the virus?

It is important to note that the subvariant BA.2 is not more dangerous than the omicron variant itself, as it shares its weakened threat of severe infection or hospitalization, the New York Post reported.

The subvariant has become the dominant form of the virus in Denmark and is going by “stealth omicron” because it is harder to detect due to a genetic trait, health officials noted.

Approximately 15,000 genetic sequences of stealth omicron from more than three dozen countries have been shared with GISAID, the global platform for sharing COVID-19 data.

On Tuesday alone, the U.S. shared 96 of those sequenced cases, and the World Health Organization is searching for more about the subvariant.

“Investigations into the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence, should be prioritized independently (and comparatively) to BA.1,” the WHO said.

The Washington Post reported that the CDC has said the subvariant “remains a very low proportion of circulating viruses in the United States and globally.”

One sign to not raise the alarms over the variant comes from Denmark, where virologist Anders Fomsgaard shared with the Post that while it accounts for 65% of new cases, “the numbers of hospitalizations [in] ICUs are decreasing.”

However, it is unknown if someone who gets sick with the original omicron strain could again get infected with stealth omicron. Still, health experts think there is no cause for alarm at the moment.

“We are not so concerned,” Fomsgaard said to the Post.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram