New Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know

Omicron BA.2 subvariant may be more contagious than first Omicron variant

(RxWiki News) After Delta and other COVID variants, Omicron took the world by storm and quickly accounted for nearly all COVID-19 cases around the world. Now, there's a subvariant of the Omicron variant.

The subvariant of Omicron, called Omicron BA.2, emerged in January and is now spreading in many parts of the world.

And health experts are saying it may be more contagious than the original Omicron variant (Omicron BA.1).

But there is some good news: According to health experts from the Mayo Clinic, Omicron BA.2 didn't seem to cause more serious illness than the original Omicron variant.

Variants of viruses like COVID-19 develop naturally when a virus is allowed to spread widely. As the virus replicates, mutations can occur, and those that are beneficial to the virus may stick and become established variants.

In general, the variants of COVID-19 have been more contagious each time — Delta was more contagious than Alpha, and Omicron was more contagious than Delta.

That pattern appears to be continuing with Omicron BA.2. But the good news is that Omicron BA.1 did appear to cause less serious illness than some previous variants, and Omicron BA.2 appeared to be roughly as virulent.

Health officials said Omicron BA.2 did not appear to be extremely widespread in the United States as of the time of publication. But because the variant was somewhat more contagious than Omicron BA.1, that may change over time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was still determining whether this variant was a so-called "variant of concern," and health officials were unsure of any change in the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

Health officials continued to recommend vaccination, boosters, social distancing and masking as prevention measures. Talk to your health care provider about how to prevent infection with COVID-19.

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Review Date: 
February 5, 2022