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COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant BA.2 found in 22 U.S. states

By Doug Cunningham
COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant BA.2 found in 22 U.S. states
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies about COVID-19 variants on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 11. CDC is continuing to monitor all COVID-19 variants. Pool photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has been detected in 22 U.S. states.

As of Tuesday there were 92 reported cases of the COVID-19 Omicron BA.2 variant in the United States, according to the virus database GISAID.

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"Although the BA.2 lineage has recently increased in proportion in some countries, it remains a very low proportion of circulating viruses in the United States and globally," Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, according to the Washington Post.

"Currently, there are insufficient data to determine whether the BA.2 lineage is more transmissible or has a fitness advantage over the BA.1 lineage," she said. "CDC continues to monitor variants that are circulating both domestically and internationally."

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Scientists worldwide are investigating the BA.2 Omicron variant.

"I don't think it's going to cause the degree of chaos and disruption, morbidity and mortality that BA.1 did," said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

But there is still a lot to learn about this COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant.

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"There's nothing that we've seen at this point that is raising a high level of concern but please rest assured we're watching it and we'll let you know if there's anything to be interested or concerned about," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

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At least 40 countries have reported BA.2, with a rapid spread of this sub-variant reported in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization said that BA.2 is not a "variant of concern." It says there is no "current evidence" to suggest that the new Omicron sub-variant is worse when it comes to vaccine efficacy, transmission or illness severity.

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"So far, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether BA.2 causes more severe illness than Omicron BA.1," Meera Chand, incident director at the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a statement.

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