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‘Stealth Omicron’: What You Need to Know

The new COVID-19 variant Omicron has swept the nation in becoming the dominant strain within the United States. Researchers have now discovered a new mutation of the Omicron variant, and are dubbing it “Stealth Omicron.” Being that it is a new mutation, there is still research being conducted by scientists and health officials; however, what is known thus far?

According to the New York Times, similarly to its cousin, the new stealth mutation (BA.2) is gaining traction. With that being said, scientists are concluding that it is no more deadly than the original Omicron variant (BA.1). 

BA.1 contains a specific mutation known as the “spike” mutation that PCR tests fail to detect. BA.2, however, lacks this spike mutation, meaning that scientists are not able to use PCR tests to track BA.2, leading to the nickname “Stealth Omicron.” 

Photo acquired from The Rockefeller Foundation

As stated in the New York Times, vaccines are being seen as just as effective against BA.2 as they are with BA.1. Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at Yale University School of Public Health states, “I’m fairly certain that it will become dominant in the United States.”

According to The Guardian, BA.1 accounts for around 98.8% of reported COVID cases. However, other countries such as Asia and Europe are currently seeing an increase in BA.2 cases. 

Danish health officials indicate that within the coming months, BA.2 has a very strong chance of becoming the dominant strain as it is more transmissible. However, the World Health Organization states that the variant is not to cause concern.