Omicron rebranded for the fun new pandemic era in which we all find ourselves.
Another week in the “two weeks to flatten the curve,” so of course, another variant of the coronavirus causing covid has been identified.
The World Health Organization has just announced a new omicron variant, which is a sub-variant of the strain that is now surging across the country. Also known as BA.2, the sub-variant has spread to over 40 countries and 17 of the United States, with 10,000 cases recorded thus far.
It’s been given the click-bait handle of “Stealth Omicron” due to its ability to evade standard PCR tests that are used to identify which strain of the respiratory virus is involved in an infection.
…While BA.2 is still detectable through COVID testing, it’s harder to identify stealth omicron as an omicron variant in test results, per John Sellick, DO, an epidemiologist and professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, in Health.
The efficacy of COVID vaccines against BA.2, its symptoms, and the chances of severe illness from contracting stealth omicron are still unknown as scientists investigate “the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence,” per a WHO recommendation on its website. Stealth omicron is not cause for concern quite yet, as BA.2 isn’t listed on the WHO’s variants of concern list.
So far, cases of this sub-variant have been found in 26 states. Despite the challenges of detecting it, the sub-variant can still be identified using standard PCR tests.
It should be noted that BA.2 is still detectable, and the “stealth Omicron” nickname “doesn’t mean undetectable by our PCR COVID tests,” microbiologist S. Wesley Long tweeted last week.
It means that while a PCR test will still tell if someone has COVID, it may not tell them that they have BA.2 specifically and genomic testing would have to be carried out to determine that.
“It’s not that the test doesn’t detect it; it’s just that it doesn’t look like Omicron,” Long told ABC News on Tuesday. “Don’t get the impression that ‘stealth Omicron’ means we can’t detect it. All of our PCR tests can still detect it.
Another expert further challenged the new name. This analysis comes from Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial London College, who describes it as a sister lineage.
First off – what is BA.2?
BA.2 is a sister lineage to BA.1. Currently both lineages are defined as the Omicron variant.
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) January 19, 2022
However, for a media still keen to milk as much drama out of the pandemic as it can, “stealth Omicron” was always going to be the handle to use.
If the cases in California are any indication, the subvariant will behave just like the dominant Omicron in terms of infection.
Two cases of the BA.2 variant were identified in Santa Clara County this week, Dr. Sara Cody, the public health director for Santa Clara County said Tuesday. But what that means for the county is still unknown, she added.
“So far we don’t really know how it behaves. My guess is it’s probably going to behave like the dominant omicron variant,” Cody said. “But we’ll see,” adding that she expects to learn more in the coming days and weeks.
California has identified 13 cases of BA.2 so far, state officials said Wednesday.
Therefore, the sub-variant can cause headaches, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and muscle aches. In other words, for most people, it’s like a bad cold but rebranded for the fun new pandemic era in which we all find ourselves.
Meanwhile, clinical trials for vaccines (which are clearly leaky and do not prevent transmission) continue for children. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts three shots will eventually be recommended for children under four…which is the population least at risk for the adverse effects associated with covid.
The White House said Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccine regime for kids younger than 4 years old will likely be three doses when it’s approved — and vowed to make millions more hard-to-find Pfizer anti-viral pills available in coming months.
Two clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine on children ages 6 months to 2 years old, and ages 2 to 4 are underway, but the older group hasn’t yet met standards, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press conference.
“Dose and regimen for children 6 months to 24 months worked well, but it turned out the other group from 24 months to 4 years did not yet reach the level of non-inferiority, so the studies are continued,” Fauci said, referencing effectiveness standard comparison to adults.
“It looks like it will be a three-dose regimen. I don’t think we can predict when we will see it [approved],” he said — adding he can’t speak for the Food and Drug Administration.
If the vaccines can’t prevent transmission, degrade with time, and cause adverse reactions, why continue to press forward on these studies? By the time this trial has ended, I am sure there will be an even more stealthy sub-variant for the press to get excited about.DONATE
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