‘Stealth Omicron' Detected in North Texas, UTSW Says

It's unclear if BA.2 evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease than BA.1 omicron

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas confirmed to NBC 5 Wednesday afternoon there are at least three cases of "stealth omicron" in North Texas.

On Thursday, UTSW confirmed that two samples sequenced were confirmed to be the variant BA.2, aka "stealth omicron."

The variant is dubbed "stealth omicron" because it can be difficult to detect in PCR tests.

Three cases of BA.2 have also been identified in Houston. Worldwide the new variant has been detected in more than 40 countries.

The variant is dubbed "stealth" because its genetic traits make it difficult to detect.

"You can still tell that it’s COVID, but to figure out it’s BA.2 you have to do a more laborious mixed sequencing," said Peter Chin-Hong, an Infectious Disease Specialist at UCSF.

Some scientists worry BA.2 could be even more contagious than the original omicron variant. But they said there’s a lot they still don’t know about it, including whether it evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease.

Since a new mutation of the omicron variant has been detected people are eager to know what this means for their daily lives and health.

"What do these small little changes mean? It’s too early to tell. It could mean absolutely nothing. Or it could be that it’s a little more contagious or serious but we just don’t know," said Pediatrician, Dr. Marcial Oquendo

Oquendo tells NBC 5 the antibodies produced by an omicron infection are supposed to provide some protection against subtypes of the same variant.

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