Health officials: Omicron sub-variant BA.2 detected in Wisconsin
WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Health officials are monitoring a new strain of Omicron that could spread more easily.
A week ago, Omicron cases in Wisconsin peaked. Doctors say the number of infections are still falling, however with this latest discovery, we could see Omicron stick around longer than anticipated.
Omicron has two sisters. The first, BA.1, has been topping the charts in Covid infections in the U.S. the last few months, but BA.2 is now on the rise and doctors think that could have significant impact on how long it takes for Omicron to fall.
⚠️UPDATE: New variant BA.2 detected in #Wisconsin— Ben Weston MD MPH ? ? (@BenWWeston) January 31, 2022
?#BA2 is offshoot of Omicron BA.1
⬆️~ 1.5x more transmissible than original #Omicron
?Does not appear more severe
?May prolong downtrend of current spike
?Vaccine & booster still highly effective
Still many unknowns... pic.twitter.com/1eIUgt2e8Q
"BA.2 seems to be a little bit more infectious, not more deadly. Everything seems to show that the vaccines still work against it," said Dr. Ajay Sethi.
Dr. Ajay Sethi says BA.2 can resemble delta on PCRs. Some have called BA.2 the stealthier version of the original Omicron because it's slightly more difficult to detect.
"But I think over time what we'll see is this Omicron wave, or spike, isn't gonna recede as rapidly and there will be some ongoing sort of lingering outspread of this virus because we have a slightly more infectious version of the Omicron variant that's already taken over," Dr. Sethi said.
Many of us have already been exposed to BA.1, so that may provide some protection against BA.2. But Dr. Sethi says don't let your guard down.
"We're declining still. The case numbers indicate that. We should always be careful though, because our neighboring state Minnesota was also seeing a decline, only to have an upswing. Then they had another decline and then they're in another upswing."
BA.2 tends to have mild respiratory symptoms, but as with other Covid infections, it can be more severe in older populations and those with comorbidities.
BA.2 was first detected in the UK in November.
Two months later, it has popped up in more than 40 countries.