Scientists worry the BA.2 variant may push up the number of COVID cases in the U.S.
The CDC reported that the variant accounted for about 35% of new infections last week.
Scientists worry that a contagious coronavirus variant may soon push up case numbers in the United States just as it has in Europe and Asia.
One reason? After about two months of falling cases in the U.S., COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted across the nation. People are taking off their masks and returning to indoor spaces. At the same time, immunity from vaccines is waning and the amount of the variant called BA.2 is rising in the U.S.
The CDC reported Tuesday that the variant accounted for about 35% of new infections last week. In the Northeast, it was about half.
Experts are also monitoring another variant: a rare delta-omicron hybrid that they say is not posing much of a threat at this point. But its creation gives scientists insight into how and why the COVID-19 virus changes so quickly.
One reason this variant has gained ground, scientists say, is that it’s about 30% more contagious than the original omicron. In rare cases, research shows it can sicken people even if they’ve already had an omicron infection — although it doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease.
Vaccines appear just as effective against both types of omicron, but breakthrough infections are possible.