DETROIT – New COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the United States, and more states and communities are rolling back precautions. But experts are carefully monitoring a variant of omicron known as BA.2.
BA.2 is also known as Stealth omicron. The World Health Organization estimates it’s about 30% more contagious than the original omicron variant.
BA.2 has been detected in 74 countries and 47 U.S. states, but experts are keeping a close eye on Denmark, where it’s now responsible for nearly 90% of new COVID cases, as it has fueled a second omicron surge.
Could that happen here?
Local 4 News asked Dr. Arnold Monto, the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Panel chair.
“The proof of the pudding with these variants is what they do,” Monto said. “We have to be aware. We have to be vigilant and do the sequencing, which is going on now. And just be ready.”
Monto said we’ve seen other variants that appeared threatening but never took off in the U.S.
“We have to see what happens here, and we have to be prepared because we know if it isn’t this one, it’s probably going to be another one,” Monto said.
New research from Denmark’s top disease authority suggests that people infected with the original omicron variant can get infected with BA.2 shortly after, but it’s rare.
“One of the blessings in disguise -- I hate that term, but let’s use it -- with omicron is that there were so many infections that we’ve got a fair level of immunity in the population,” Monto said.
He hopes that immunity might help us get closer to COVID becoming more of a seasonal virus like the flu. But he cautions against predictions, saying COVID continues to surprise us.