UW Medicine finds BA.2 subvariant in 25% of new COVID cases

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Photo Courtesy UW Medicine

SEATTLE, Wash. — A new omicron subvariant responsible for a wave of new COVID-19 cases in Europe in Asia may sweep the U.S. soon.

The BA.2 variant currently accounts for about 25 percent of new COVID-19 cases sequenced by the UW Medicine Clinical Virology Laboratory.

The lab first detected BA.2 in early January, not knowing much of its contagiousness or severity. The variant is responsible for nearly 35 percent of new infections nationally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s been sort of slowly creeping up over the last six weeks,” said Dr. Alex Greninger, UW Medicine’s virology lab assistant director.

Scientists believe the U.S. is due for an uptick in BA.2 variant cases in the coming weeks or months.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what the end of April, beginning of May, what that time period will look like,” said Greninger.

He is hopeful that a potential wave of new cases caused by BA.2 won’t eclipse that of the original omicron variant. Emerging data show people who have been recently infected with omicron are likely protected against a BA.2 infection.

More research finds booster shots continue to give their recipients a leg up in avoiding a major COVID-19 illness, including from BA.2.

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