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There are 2 omicron variant subvariants. Here’s what you should know

The ‘stealth omicron’ is already on the top of experts’ minds. So what is it that worries them?

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An illustration of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The “stealth omicron” is already on the top of experts’ minds. So what is it that worries them?

Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

The highly contagious omicron variant has three subtypes, all of which have been referred to as “stealth omicron.”

The news: Over the weekend, scientists started to express concerns about “stealth omicron” — a subvariant of the omicron variant.

  • The World Health Organization said that the new variant, BA.2, has 32 mutations in common with BA.1, which is the original omicron variant.
  • However, there’s also BA.3, which is another subvariant of the omicron variant.
  • Denmark, the United Kingdom, Singapore and India have already seen case numbers associated with the BA.2 and BA.3 subvariants, per Insider.

What they’re saying: Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted over the weekendthat he is “concerned” about the new subtype because it is account for more and more omicron variant cases.

Yes, but: “Initial analysis shows no differences in hospitalizations for BA.2 compared to BA.1,” said Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut, a government-funded infectious disease research center, in a statement. “It is expected that vaccines also have an effect against severe illness upon BA.2 infection.”

What’s next: Tom Peacock, a researcher at Imperial College London, said the subvariants won’t likely cause another wave.

  •  ”I think the likely scenario is BA.2 just exacerbates what the national omicron situation is (slows down decreases, increases peaks, etc).”
  • Peacock told the Financial Times that the subvariants are not a “major cause of concern,” but they are “definitely worth keeping an eye on.”