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Stealth Omicron, the new COVID variant identified in North Texas



DALLAS, TX- A new mutation of the Omicron variant detected in North Texas.

Researchers from UT Southwestern identified two BA.2 cases through genomic sequencing. It has to be analyzed closely in order to be diagnosed, thus the name “stealth omicron”.

“You have to do genome sequencing to identify it,” Baylor University Medical Center infectious disease physician Dr. Mezgebe Berhe said. “Any of the PCR studies, by the way, would be positive. Any of the rapid tests would be positive because they target multiple segments of the virus.”

Since November 2021, over 8,000 BA.2 cases were identified, and the origins of the new subvariant are still unknown.

In Texas, the first two cases were detected at Houston Methodist last week.

Dr. Wesley Long leads the genome sequencing lab. “Stealth omicron is similarly contagious maybe slightly more contagious, but we don’t have any reason to believe it’s any more severe,” Long said.

“There is concern that it may be either more transmissible or possibly evading the current immune responses from vaccines and from natural infections,” Dr. Berhe said. “It may be more evasive, but we don’t know. We’re still waiting for additional data.”

There were also subvariants with the previous variants. Even delta had subvariants, but the researchers referred to all of them as delta.

“Variants are not new. There will always be variants because there is still an ongoing transmission,” Dr. Berhe. “This should not distract us from what could be life-saving: Vaccination, boosting, seems to help very much because many of our patients in the hospital with complicated disease are unvaccinated.”