EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The two-year long coronavirus pandemic has led to a number of virus variants.
The current dominant strain, omicron, has triggered the most infections in the shortest amount of time. But now there’s a new one that’s slowly gaining traction.
The latest variant is considered a descendant of the omicron variant. It’s already shown up in at least 40 countries, including the United States, and it’s proving to be tricky to detect.
It’s the new coronavirus strain that sounds a lot likes its predecessor. World Health officials have dubbed it ‘stealth omicron’ because of a genetic trait that makes the virus variant harder to detect. The technical term for the variant is BA.2.
The U.S. has been hit with nearly 100 cases of stealth omicron and counting. Scientists are trying to learn if it could be more contagious than other variants or if it evades vaccines better.
The original omicron variant has resulted in many cases of infected patients experiencing relatively mild symptoms. It’s a subject Eyewitness News brought up with a Geisinger critical care nurse.
“For some people, that’s all it is but it’s just that population of people who it affects a lot different than other people, than everybody else and they’re the patient in my position that I see,” Geisinger Critical Care Nurse RN Matthew Bauer said.
While there’s much we don’t know about stealth omicron, we do know this:
“There’ve been several variants that have emerged and the vaccines have lost a little bit of effectiveness but they have still been very effective at preventing severe disease and very effective at preventing death,” Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Umza Syed said.
It’s why the people who work so hard to keep us well are making a plea to get vaccinated and boosted when so many haven’t and paid the price.
“This is something that we keep preaching and keep saying and we’ve said from the beginning when the vaccine was available to please get vaccinated and so it’s difficult for us to see that and then on the other end to have patients tell us before or after they recover, if they recover, that I wish I would have gotten vaccinated,” Geisinger Certified Critical Care Nurse RN Evan Gajkowski said.
So why such concern for ‘stealth’ omicron in the U.S. when there’s not quite 100 cases? It’s already thriving in parts of Asia and Europe, has already doubled in cases in Denmark in just two weeks, and is showing possibilities of re-infecting patients who’ve had the dominant omicron strain.