Well-Being Prevention & Cures

BA.2 omicron subvariant nearly 35 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases

person getting a nasal swab at a testing station
A health care worker tests a woman for COVID-19 in New York City on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey) Associated Press

Story at a glance

  • The BA.2 subvariant of the omicron coronavirus has been surging in European and Asian countries in the last few months.
  • It is now responsible for 34.9 percent of new cases in the U.S.
  • Health experts say that cases could rise as it continues to spread.

The BA.2 subvariant of omicron is increasingly dominant in countries in Europe and Asia. For example, it is responsible for the surge in cases in Hong Kong and a rise in cases in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In the U.S., BA.2 has been steadily increasing its share of COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks, and health experts say that it will likely contribute to an increase in overall case numbers. 

The original omicron variant remains the dominant variant in the U.S., but BA.2 is slowly inching towards the majority. On March 5, the BA.2 omicron subvariant made up approximately 12.6 percent of coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A week later that increased to about 22 percent. 

The CDC says that the BA.2 variant makes up 34.9 percent of cases in the U.S. as of March 19, according to data updated on their website today. 

The BA.2 subvariant has the highest percentage of cases in the Northeast region, where it’s responsible for a majority of new coronavirus cases. In the New York and tristate area, it makes up 51.8 percent of cases, according to the CDC. In the New England states, it’s as much as 55 percent of cases. 


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As far as what we know about the subvariant, it is similar to the original omicron strain but seems to be more transmissible.

“It does have increased transmission capability,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “However, when you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infections.” 

Overall numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. have decreased since the omicron peak in January. However, we could see an increase in cases from a combination of the increased transmissibility of BA.2, lifting of restrictions and waning immunity from people who were boosted or infected a long time ago, said physician and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb on Sunday during CBS’s “Face the Nation. 

We could see low levels of infection through the summer, he said. “But before we get there, we’re probably going to see some tick-up of infection like the Europeans are seeing right now, maybe not as pronounced.” He adds that we are seeing signs of cases already peaking in the U.K.  


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