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‘Stealth omicron’ COVID-19 variant detected in Dane Co.

As of right now, there is “insufficient” evidence that it causes more severe illness or is more contagious than the original omicron variant.
Local health officials are marking two years since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Dane Co. – and, by extension, Wisconsin.
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 3:41 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The first case of the new variant strain dubbed as “stealth omicron” has made it to Wisconsin, health officials confirm Monday.

New data from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicates one case of the strain, BA.2, has been found in Wisconsin.

Public Health Madison and Dane County Communications Coordinator Morgan Finke confirms there is a presence of BA.2 in Dane County. She says its still too early to say what its impact on cases and trends will be.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services noted that BA.2 currently accounts for less than 0.5% of all sequenced cases worldwide and in the United States.

Layering COVID-19 prevention strategies is the best way to protect people from the virus, including BA.2, DHS notes. Wisconsinites are advised to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, get the booster dose when they are eligible and wear a mask indoors.

BA.2 is a descendant of the omicron mutation, according to a report from the UK Health Agency. The new version appears to have similar traits as the original, such as its apparent ability to evade preexisting immunity, whether from the virus or from vaccinations.

BA.2 has also been referred to as “stealth omicron,” according to the Washington Post, because its genetic traits make it difficult to detect with a PCR test, which could detect the original version of the variant.

Scientists say there is still much to learn about the new version. As of right now, there is “insufficient” evidence that it causes more severe illness or is more contagious than the original omicron variant.

In the last 30 days, 1,181 cases of the omicron variant have been detected of the cases tested in Wisconsin. These cases are made up of several lineages, including the original strain B.1.1.529, and its sub lineages, BA.1, BA.2, and BA.3.

There have been 4,118 cases of omicron identified in Wisconsin overall.

Omicron makes up 95% of the cases tested overall for the month of January and just over 4% of cases are identified as the delta variant. There have been 50 cases of the delta variant found in Wisconsin in the past 30 days and 27,038 overall.

Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicates the omicron variant makes up 95% of cases...
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicates the omicron variant makes up 95% of cases identified this January.(Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene)

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