stealth omicron variant

January 31, 2022
stealth omicron variant

This may mean higher peak infections in places that have yet to peak, and a slowdown in the downward trends in places that have already experienced peak Omicron.

Virologist Thomas Peacock, Imperial College London, on the so-called stealth variant of Omicron.
  • Soon after Omicron was first identified in Nov. 2021, scientists discovered there are actually 3 separate "versions" of the variant – BA.1, BA.2 & BA.3. BA.2 was recently identified in the U.S.
  • BA.2 = the "stealth" Omicron variant because it's harder to trace (not necessarily for you to test positive, but harder for scientists to quickly identify as an Omicron variant). “It's not that the test doesn't detect it; it's just that it doesn't look like omicron."
  • BA.2 could potentially get its own name if the variant proves different enough from the "original" – but for now, researchers continue to watch it, especially in order to understand whether people with prior infection from Omicron BA.1 have protection against BA.2.
  • Why It Matters: Preliminary research suggests this variant is potentially more contagious than the very contagious initial Omicron, but not necessarily more virulent (causing more illness).

Dr. Scott Gottleib discusses the "stealth" omicron here:
Transcript: Dr. Scott Gottlieb on "Face the Nation," January 30, 2022

EXPLAINER: What's known about 'stealth' version of omicron?

‘Stealth’ Variant No Cause for Alarm, but Could Slow Case Decline

by Jenna Lee,