Connecticut doctor: BA.2 variant will lead to rise in cases but will be less severe
Connecticut is seeing a slight uptick in its COVID metrics after weeks of steady or declining case numbers. Health experts say a new subvariant called Stealth Omicron is behind the increase - and they say it's just getting started.
U.S. officials are now calling BA.2 a "subvariant of concern," as countries overseas grapple with a sudden increase in new COVID-19 cases.
"It's causing a significant bump in Europe, and what we typically see is we are about two to three weeks behind what Europe is going through," said Dr. Sharon Stoll, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine.
Stoll says the new subvariant is more infectious than standard Omicron. BA.2 first showed up in Connecticut in late January.
"Right now, this subvariant accounts for about 35% of cases. I think it'll become the predominant strain within the next two to three weeks," said Stoll.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 35% of new infections in the U.S. last week were due to the new subvariant.
Data from Europe suggests the new subvariant causes less severe disease than previous forms. Stoll says the public will be partly protected by leftover immunity from the Omicron wave.
"This isn't going to be a shock like the original pandemic or the original outbreak was, because a lot of our systems have been exposed to this before," she said.
But Stoll says a rise in cases is likely over the next few weeks, and the most vulnerable are still at risk.
"We need to get back to some sense of normalcy, but we also have to have some degree of awareness and precaution," Stoll said.
She says COVID-19 will be with us for years to come, as will masks and other safety precautions.
"Similar to our children needing to wear those bike helmets or helmets when skiing, which wasn't the case even 20 years ago," Stoll said.