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On Jan. 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified omicron variant BA.2 as the new strain of coronavirus increasing globally. BA.2 has spread to over 40 countries and 17 of the United States, with 10,000 cases recorded thus far. Due to its spike-protein differences from the original omicron variant, BA.1, scientists have given BA.2 the nickname “stealth omicron” for its being harder to detect via PCR test, according to a report by The Washington Post. 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.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, the CDC, and local public health departments.

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