Two months after it was discovered, a new coronavirus variant is making its way across the country and spreading more rapidly in the Northeast and West.
As the number of Coronavirus cases has roughly doubled every week for the past month, the variant BA.2 is on its way to becoming the dominant strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The World Health Organization considers BA.2 a “sublineage” of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Unlike BA.1, which caused the surge that hit the Northeast late last year, this is a different strain of omicron.
Initially referred to as the “stealth variant” because it was difficult to detect, it differs genetically from BA.1.
Omicron infections are most commonly caused by BA.2 versions around the world. The CDC reports that BA.2 caused 23.1% of the cases in the U.S. for the week ending March 12. Last week, it caused 14.2% of cases.
What is the spread rate of BA.2 in the United States?
According to the CDC, the number of cases of BA.2 rose from 25.4% to 39% in New Jersey and New York during the week ended March 12. A breakdown of COVID-19 cases for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands is also provided by the CDC in that region.
According to the CDC, BA.2 was responsible for 38.6% of cases in the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) during the previous week, up from 24% the week before.
This week, BA.2 accounted for 27.7% of cases in the West, up from 17.1% the previous week. According to the CDC, BA.2 accounted for 26.2% of cases in the upper West, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
BA.2 cases have been on the rise in other states in recent weeks, accounting for 12% to 20% of cases for the week ending March 12.
Does BA.2 spread faster? Is it more lethal?
According to the WHO, BA.2 has “inherently greater transmissibility” than omicron BA.1.
BA.2 has not yet been found to cause severe illness, as did omicron BA.1, which caused a rapid surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths a month ago before quickly declining.
According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, though omicron BA.1 was considered milder than COVID-19’s original strain and delta variant, it increased COVID-19-related deaths in the United States by 60,000 in January 2022, twice the number in November.
Infectious disease specialist Stephanie Silvera said that we often don’t know until too late. The last impacts we see from these surges are deaths, which is a problem with managing them.