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New version of omicron reported, dubbed ‘stealth omicron’

FILE - Maya Goode, a COVID-19 technician, performs a test on Jessica Sanchez outside Asthenis...
FILE - Maya Goode, a COVID-19 technician, performs a test on Jessica Sanchez outside Asthenis Pharmacy in Providence, R.I., Dec. 7, 2021. A new version of the omicron variant, dubbed "stealth omicron," was first reported in the Philippines and has been detected in 40 countries, including the U.S. It is the dominant form of the virus in Denmark.(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 10:04 AM EST
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(Gray News) - Scientists are keeping a close eye on a new version of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

The new variant, referred to by researchers as BA.2, is a descendant of the omicron mutation, according to a report from the UK Health Agency.

At least three cases have been reported in the U.S. They were found in patients at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, where researchers are studying samples of the virus, The Washington Post stated.

The new version appears to have similar traits as the original, such as its apparent ability to evade preexisting immunity, whether from the virus or from vaccinations.

BA.2 has also been dubbed as “stealth omicron,” according to the Washington Post, because its genetic traits make it difficult to detect with a PCR test, which could detect the original version of the variant.

The UK Health Agency reported cases of BA.2 have been detected in 40 countries and was first reported in the Philippines. It is the dominant form of the virus in Denmark.

Scientists say there is still much to learn about the new version. As of right now, there is “insufficient” evidence that it causes more severe illness or is more contagious than the original omicron variant.

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