Omicron subvariant gradually spreading to the United States

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:27 PM EDT
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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Cases of a coronavirus subvariant are rising in Europe, and now it’s slowly making its way to the United States.

Health officials say this new subvariant, BA.2, is more transmissible than Omicron and grows 80 percent faster.

The subvariant is named after Omicron, which was called BA.1.

This variant is mostly affecting European countries. Cases of BA.2 have been reported in the United States, and before too long it could take the spot as the most prevalent COVID-19 strain.

Pitt County Health Director Dr. John Silvernail said eastern North Carolina typically lags behind other parts of the world in the spread of the virus.

“To my knowledge, we’ve only had one sample in eastern North Carolina that’s sequenced a positive for BA.2,” said Silvernail.

As holidays like Easter, public school spring breaks and Passover approach, Silvernail believes we will see a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“Usually, we see whether it’s influenza or COVID we see a little bit of a spring wave,” said Silvernail.

A rise in COVID cases is scary for Andrew Sutton, an ECU student, because he doesn’t want to deal with Covid-19 restrictions in class again.

" I don’t think the masks were too great, I didn’t enjoy wearing them, especially in class, because some of the classrooms - they couldn’t control temperature well,” said Sutton. “It would be hot, and I had to wear a hot mask.”

He knows Covid-19 is a big issue and wants to make sure he and his classmates are safe.

“I’d be kind of sad to see them put the rules back on, but it depends on how deadly the new virus is,” said Sutton.

Even though federal funding for Covid-19 vaccines has run out, Silvernail thinks it won’t be an issue for the foreseeable future.

“There is still thousands and thousands of doses in the system - if not hundreds of thousands of doses in the system - that are already paid for,” said Silvernail.

With new metrics to keep track of Covid-19 cases, health officials feel prepared to handle BA.2.

“I think these metrics will work we needed to move away from a model that tried to test everybody to a model that tests folks that are sick and need to be tested,” said Silvernail.

Dr. Silvernail said we should start seeing the subvariant, BA.2, start spreading in North Carolina by the end of March and at the beginning of April.

He also said that this variant is considered mild, but it will affect people differently. He recommends getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when possible.

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