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latest news   How worried should we be about the new BA.2 Omicron subtype?  Here’s what we know

California has identified a number of cases of BA.2, a sublineage of the Omicron variant that is gaining increasing attention.

Four BA.2 cases have been identified in Los Angeles County and two in Santa Clara County, the most populous county in Northern California.

BA.2 considered a potential source of concern?

The World Health Organization has stated that the occurrence of the BA.2 subtype is increasing in many countries. Denmark, for example, has seen substantial BA.2 growth.

This is different from BA.1, which accounts for the vast majority of Omicron cases to date, according to the WHO.

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

What are LA County health officials saying about BA.2?

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that epidemiologists have noticed that Omicron’s BA.2 subline is spreading slightly faster in some countries than other Omicron descendants.

“We don’t yet know how BA.2 might be different from other Omicron lines. And scientists will work quickly in the coming weeks to learn more about immune evasion, severity and transmissibility,” Ferrer said.

BA.2 does it cause a new thrust in certain places?

“In places that have already passed their peak of Omicron cases, it appears BA.2 is causing a new surge,” Ferrer said.

Will current vaccines be less effective against BA.2 than the main Omicron subtype?

In fact, it doesn’t appear that BA.2 acts radically different from other Omicron sublines, at least among places at the peak of their Omicron surge that have a significant prevalence of BA.2, Ferrer said.

“And compared to the other Omicron lines, BA.2 doesn’t really have a lot of unique mutations that would impact which part of the virus our immune system targets,” Ferrer said.

Can a person who has been infected with the main subtype of Omicron be reinfected with BA.2?

It is an unanswered question. Ferrer said she hoped that surviving an infection of the primary Omicron subtype would keep someone safe from BA.2 reinfection, but the answer is not yet available.

Will BA.2 cause a further increase in coronavirus cases in LA County?

Because BA.2 can spread widely, that’s the big concern.

“We’re not at a low enough place, with low enough transmission, that we’re not continuing to be sensitive to precautions,” Ferrer said. “And I hope people will continue to be reasonable as we get more information on BA.2.”

According to a Times analysis of state data released Thursday, reflecting numbers reported through Wednesday, LA County is averaging about 29,000 new coronavirus cases per day over the past week, down from 34. % compared to Omicron’s peak of 44,000 cases per day a few weeks ago. but still nearly twice as high as last winter’s peak of 16,000 cases a day.

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