We’ve all learned or been reminded during the COVID-19 pandemic that viruses naturally change over time, producing what are called variants. In some cases, a variant changes to create what are called subvariants. These viruses are different from their forebears but not different enough to be named with the next character in the Greek alphabet.
Medical researchers and public health officials are now monitoring a subvariant of the Omicron variant called BA.2. Studies have shown BA.2 to be up to 1.5 times as transmissible as the original Omicron strain (BA.1). For example, BA.2 has surpassed BA.1 as the dominant strain in Denmark in just a few weeks.
According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while BA.2 is more transmissible, there’s “no evidence” that it’s more severe than BA.1. And, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not labeled BA.2 a different variant of concern from Omicron.
That said, other studies differ, concluding that BA.2 can cause more severe disease. Those studies also say that BA.2 may resist some treatments, including sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody.
Getting Vaccinated is the Best Protection
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a first, third, or booster vaccination appointment at a location near you.
Omicron BA.2 and Vaccine Effectiveness
Researchers seem to agree that COVID-19 vaccines are as effective against BA.2 as they are against previous variants. For instance, a booster dose is 70% effective at preventing symptomatic illness from BA.2 two weeks after the shot is given. That is as compared to 63% effectiveness against BA.1.
How You Should Respond to Omicron BA.2
While it’s still unclear if BA.2 is more likely to cause severe illness, its greater transmissibility alone should encourage you to get vaccinated or boosted if you aren’t already. If you receive the necessary shots, you’ll be less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. You’ll also be less likely to infect your friends and family.
Schedule Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Even as we move closer to resuming “normal life,” we must stay vigilant and focused on ending the pandemic. That includes getting vaccinated. If you aren’t fully immunized and boosted, schedule an appointment.
BA.2 surely won’t be the last COVID-19 variant or subvariant to come along. But if you’re doing all you can to protect yourself and your loved ones, you can move forward with confidence that you’ve significantly reduced your risk of getting seriously ill. Learn more with Baptist Health, or start a COVID-19 evaluation online with our 24/7 Virtual Care Services.
Next Steps and Useful Resources