Preliminary data show that it is more contagious than omicron. Researchers have called it BA.2 a variant that is closely related to the original omicron strain.
“In Denmark, where it has in a way been taken over, it seems that it is one and a half times more contagious than the original omicron, which was more contagious than the delta,” said Dr. Deepak Srivastava, President of the Gladstone Institutes.
The CDC confirmed that BA.2 is circulating at a low level in the United States. Two cases of BA.2 were confirmed in Santa Clara County last week. Is it worse than omicron or delta? Dr. Srivastava explains.
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“It looks like this is going to transmit more, but so far it does not seem to be serious anymore, but we still need to study it,” said Dr. Srivastava.
UCSF Professor Nevan Krogan is Director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute. He degraded BA.2 in comparison to the original omicron strain.
“In many ways they are similar. Each has about 50 mutations. There are 30 mutations that overlap between these two viruses,” Professor Krogan said.
Professor Krogan’s team identifies the section where the majority of the transmission is formed within the BA.2 variant.
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“There are a few others here that we think may be involved in suppressing the immune response. This new variant may be more effective at doing so compared to the original variant,” Professor Krogran said.
Experts also call BA.2 “stealth omicron.” They have noticed that there is an important difference in its genetic sequence that makes it harder to track.
“It does not have a mutation in a region that causes it to fall out, so it’s very similar to participating in a PCR test, so you can not see the difference, which is why we call it stealth,” said Dr. Srivastava.
Both experts agree that vaccines and boosters remain effective against both strains.
“I do not think we should be worried every time. We should realize that the virus is mutating. I think there should be some satisfaction in knowing that the scientific world has tools that we have never had before,” said Professor Krogan.
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