New Omicron subvariant has doctors eyeing new COVID-19 cases daily

Doctors are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 data, as a new subvariant surges in Europe and some parts of the United States.

“It is here in Massachusetts and it is accounting for more and more in the of the infections,” said Newton-Wellesley Pathologist Dr. Michael J. Misialek about BA.2, the subvariant of the Omicron BA.1 variant that has a slightly different mutation pattern. “It’s really a cat and mouse game here. What’s going to happen over the coming months some experts think it’ll just blunt the decline in overall cases. Whereas others see it possibly another surge here. Albeit probably lower than the original Omicron, but nonetheless a surge and part of it is due to waning immunity either through natural infection or the vaccine and and the boosters.”

The CDC reports the strain now accounts for 23% of new infections which has doctors all over the country monitoring data daily.

“We’re seeing it rise as a proportion in the wastewater for those that are monitoring separately for variants,” said Colleen Naughton, MD at University of California Merced.

“We first saw BA.2 and there was not a real increase in cases, but, having said that, it clearly is more contagious,” said Richard Ellison, MD at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

There is also one other concern doctors worry about with BA.2.

“Its incubation period is a lot shorter than other variants we have seen thus far so if the virus does transmit to somebody it’s likely that it will take hold quicker than that person can mount an immune response,” said Misialek. “That’s something that has us a bit worried about the variant.”

Dr. Misialek says be on your guard, still try to mask when you can and test frequently. He expects that the symptoms and severity will eventually decrease to the point that it could become an asymptomatic variant.

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