The BA.2 omicron subvariant, often known as “stealth omicron,” has been discovered in Michigan and is generating coronavirus outbreaks in Western Europe and other parts of the world.
According to Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, laboratory sequencing had found 99 specimens in Michigan people from 21 counties and the city of Detroit as of Friday.
The majority of the specimens came from Wayne County (19), Oakland and Washtenaw counties (15 each), and Macomb County (14). (13). Sutfin reported there were two examples in the city of Detroit.
Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Houghton, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Leelanau, Livingston, Marquette, Midland, Monroe, Oceana, Ottawa, Saginaw, and St. Clair, she added, were among the counties possessing specimens.
The first cases were discovered the week of Jan. 15, according to Sutfin.
No examples of BA.2 had been detected by whole-genome sequencing at the time of a Free Press piece about the subvariant in early February. “It takes time for sequencing to occur and results to be sent to MDHHS,” Sutfin said on Friday.
According to a World Health Organization statement released last month, BA.2 is a sublineage of the omicron variety. BA.2 appears to be naturally more transmissible than BA.1, which is still the most prevalent omicron sublineage reported, according to preliminary data.
According to forecasts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week ending March 12, the combined national proportion of omicron lineages will be 100 percent. According to the report, there are five omicron lineages, with BA.2 accounting for 23.1 percent of all instances, or nearly a quarter of all cases.
According to the New York Times, health officials estimated on Friday that BA.2 is responsible for around 30% of new infections in New York City.
According to outbreak.info, which analyses data from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, which tracks developing varieties of the virus around the world, BA.2 has been discovered in at least 97 countries and all 50 states in the United States.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said this week on “PBS NewsHour” that BA.2 is “more transmissible,” but “it doesn’t appear to be any more severe,” and “it doesn’t seem to evade immune responses induced by the vaccine or by prior infection.”
According to the state’s latest COVID-19 response data and modeling update dated Tuesday, Michigan health officials are “closely following the appearance of the (o)micron BA.2 wave in Europe to identify the threat.”
According to the update, BA.2 is causing a surge in numerous European countries. According to the official update, there has been an increase in cases and hospital admissions, but not yet in lagging indicators such as intensive care unit admissions and deaths.
Michigan health officials, according to Sutfin, “continue to monitor potential COVID-19 variations of concern and will update Michigan people as appropriate on any precautions they should take to protect themselves against the virus.”
“We continue to encourage all Michigan residents aged 5 and up to acquire the safe and effective COVID-19 immunization or be boosted if they are eligible.” Our best defense against the virus remains the vaccine.”
Sixty percent of Michigan residents aged 5 and above have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19. According to official records, more than 3 million additional booster doses had been delivered in Michigan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study on Friday that found that adults hospitalized with COVID-19 during the delta and omicron surges who received two or three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine had a 90 percent to 95 percent lower risk of dying or needing a ventilator than those who were not vaccinated. Adults who received a third vaccine shot had the best protection, according to the CDC.
Moderna had stated a day before that it has submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration for the fourth dose of its vaccine for anyone aged 18 and up.
Its proposal came just two days after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they had submitted an emergency use authorization request to the FDA for an additional booster dose for people aged 65 and up.
The majority of Michigan counties have low levels of new cases, hospital admissions, and hospital beds, according to the CDC COVID-19 community levels update released on Thursday.
According to the CDC, thirteen counties in northern Lower Michigan are at medium level, which means persons at high risk of serious disease should discuss whether they need to wear a mask or take other precautions with their health care provider.
In Michigan, the state health department recorded 1,385 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and Friday. According to state data, 572 adults and children were hospitalized with the illness on Friday.
In mid-February, MDHHS lifted its statewide mask warning for numerous indoor locations.
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive, said in a statement that the state modified its quarantine guidance last week based on current conditions and low numbers of new COVID-19 cases to “reflect the fact that the state has entered a post-surge, recovery period.”