ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The World Health Organization on Thursday said the BA.2 omicron coronavirus subvariant is now the dominant COVID-19 strain worldwide.
According to the WHO, BA.2 accounted for 86% of global COVID-19 cases reported to the organization in the past month.
Here are nine things you need to know about the new strain:
1. The variant is known as omicron BA.2.
2. As of March 25, it became the dominant strain of COVID-19 worldwide.
3. It’s believed to be a little more transmissible than the original omicron strain, scientists say.
4. The variant has actually been in Florida since late January. Dr. Michael Teng with the University of South Florida said, “We’re starting to see it’s slowly taking over from the original version of omicron that we had.”
5. Teng said the new variant is something to watch, but not panic over. “It doesn’t seem to be that different in terms of our immune responses, compared to the BA.1.”
6. Teng compared BA.2 to last year’s alpha variant, infecting a few extra people here and there, but not causing another wave, especially coming off a variant that a lot of people already have protection from vaccines or recent cases.
7. China and Europe are experiencing waves of omicron BA.2 and seeing an increase of cases and hospitalizations, but health experts don’t expect a similar wave in the U.S.
8. Scientists warn a future wave is likely, because many third-world countries still have low vaccination ratios. According to University of Oxford data, many African nations still have rates below 10%.
9. Despite this new strain, cases and deaths remain on the decline.
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