Healthcare

Omicron subvariant now almost 90 percent of US COVID cases: CDC

Associated Press / David Dermer

Nearly 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States are now a more transmissible subvariant of omicron known as BA.2, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The data, for the week ending April 9, shows that 86 percent of cases were the BA.2 variant, showing how the variant has risen in the United States to now make up almost all new cases.  

The BA.2 variant is estimated to be about 30 percent more transmissible than the original omicron variant, which already spread more easily than earlier variants.  

Importantly, though, there is not evidence that the BA.2 subvariant evades the vaccines to a greater extent or causes more severe disease.  

It does appear to be fueling a new uptick in cases, but it remains to be seen how sharp an increase there will be. There are so far no signs of the massive spike seen from the original omicron variant over the winter.  

Experts stress that people who are vaccinated and boosted have strong protection from severe disease.  

Cases and hospitalizations are still at some of their lowest levels of the pandemic.  

Ashish Jha, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Monday that the BA.2 variant is not a cause for alarm.  

“I am not overly concerned right now,” he said on NBC. “Case numbers are rising. We were expecting this because we saw this in Europe a few weeks ago, but the good news is we’re coming off of still very low infection numbers. Hospitalizations right now are the lowest they’ve been in the entire pandemic.” 

“So we’ve got to watch this very carefully,” he added. “Obviously I never like to see infections rising. I think we’ve got to be careful, but I don’t think this is a moment where we have to be excessively concerned.” 

The Northeast in particular has seen upticks in cases recently, and the BA.2 variant makes up an even greater share of cases there, at around 90 percent.  

Tags Ashish Jha COVID surge COVID-19 omicron Subvariant

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