2.75 cases of BA were detected in Illinois. What experts say about the new COVID variant

Since the outbreak of the pandemic more than two years ago, sudden increases in COVID-19 cases have been driven by the emergence of new variants, including delta and omicron. Currently, the most contagious variant of omicron, called BA.5, accounts for the most new US cases, however, a separate newer variant is garnering attention.

The scientists, known as BA.2.75, confirm that the sub-variant may be able to evade immunity from previous vaccines and infections. In an article, Dr. Matthew Pennecker, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic, explained that the strain includes multiple mutations in the genes coding for the virus protein, allowing the virus to bind to the host cell receptor more efficiently. .

The strain was discovered in India in May, and appears to be spreading faster than other subvariants there and is being monitored by both the World Health Organization as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases have emerged in at least a dozen countries, including the United States, where numbers are still very low.

A total of 13 cases have been confirmed in the United States, including three in Illinois, said Dr. Alison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health’s commissioner.

At this point, it doesn’t look like the pressure will lead to another major COVID wave in the US, but the possibility is there.

“…we’re monitoring it,” Arwady said. “We are doing well testing and looking forward here, which is one of the reasons why we might find it [BA.2.75]. “

According to Binnicker, BA.2.75 spreads more effectively from person to person, who explained that there are no firm data to prove that it causes more severe disease compared to other subvariables. However, as more people become infected, the chances of the virus infecting someone who is more susceptible to it increases.

He explained, “…Those who are immunocompromised can end up severely ill and taken to hospital. It is a concern when the virus can infect people at a higher rate because the potential for the virus to infect an individual. Who is highly susceptible to worse outcomes. Then it increases.”

The threat of the BA 2.75 variant in India underscores the importance of universal vaccination, Dr. Sabrina Assumu, MD, a physician at Boston Medical Center, told NBC Boston.

“We will not be able to beat this pandemic if we do not make sure that everyone, everywhere is safe,” she said.

Several Boston doctors said that the Indian population had different immunity from the United States, because different vaccines were given at different times and different variants circulated at different times. These variables lead to fluctuating levels of infection-induced immunity.

Dr. Shera Doron, of Tufts Medical Center, said: “We can’t assume what happens there will happen here, however we have to prepare for surges. We always prepare for surges.” “Variants that avoid immunity from the vaccine and previous infection will emerge, and we can’t quite know what they’re going to do to our case rates until we get there.”

As the school year approaches and new variants, including BA 2.75, lead to additional cases, monitoring the number of infections will be critical.

“There is certainly a concern that as we move into the fall and winter months of 2022, and then into 2023, new strains of the virus, including BA.27.5, will increase as children go back to school,” Benecker said. “They will interact, and there will be an increase in the rate of transmission of viruses, including COVID 19.”

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