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Omicron BA.2 subvariant now most dominant strain of COVID-19 in U.S.

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Omicron BA.2 subvariant now most dominant strain of COVID-19 in U.S.
A person is swabbed for a polymerase chain reaction coronavirus test at the Emery Heights Recreation Center in Northwest Washington, D.C., on January 8. On Tuesday, CDC data indicate the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron became the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.

Data from the public health agency said 54.9% of all positive COVID-19 tests in the United States from March 20 through Saturday were BA.2. The BA.1.1 subvariant was found in 40.4% of cases and B.1.1.529 was found in 4.7% of cases.

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Until this past week, the BA.1.1. strain was the most prevalent in the United States this calendar year, edging out Delta and any other variants of the virus, according to CDC data. The BA.2 subvariant, though, is believed to be about 30% more transmissible than BA.1.1

Omicron is a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 that became the dominant strain of the virus in fall 2021, causing cases to skyrocket in the new year. The variant, though, is less severe than its predecessor, Delta, so while there was a rise in deaths in December and January, it wasn't as high as earlier spikes.

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The CDC reported some 9,600 new COVID-19 cases and 47 deaths Sunday, the most recent day for which data are available.

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It's unclear to what extent BA.2 may effect the overall number of cases, which have been on a steady decline since the beginning of the year.

The new CDC data comes as the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a second booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for those over the age of 50 and some with compromised immune systems. The CDC has yet to approve the recommendation.

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