TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — By now you’ve probably heard the Covid-19 variant behind the latest wave, Omicron, now has a variant of its own. Medical experts say it’s a sub-variant, or like a sibling to Omicron.
It’s being called “Stealth Omicron” because medical experts say it’s difficult to detect.
“It shows up like all other prior variants we’ve had,” said Dr. Seetha Lakshmi, Medical Director of the Global Emerging Diseases Institute with Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
So far Stealth Omicron, officially named BA.2, has been found in at least 40 countries– including the U.S.
Medical experts in the Tampa Bay area are keeping close watch of its development here.
“We’re keeping an eye on it, and we’re sequencing all samples that come into the laboratory. We are also watching on a global scale to see where this goes,” said Dr. Lakshmi.
Because “Stealth Omicron” is difficult to detect, experts are having to work harder to identify it, according to Dr. Lakshmi. So far, they haven’t found any cases.
Medical experts also believe Stealth Omicron is even more contagious, based on what they’re seeing in other countries.
“It’s starting to take over in Denmark. It’s becoming the dominant variant, so that suggests it’s more transmissible than Omicron,” said Dr. Michael Teng, a Virologist with USF.
That means the current wave of cases could last longer than expected.
“This Stealth Omicron, BA.2, is a little bit more transmissible. That might mean that our recovery from the peak of omicron may be extended,” said Dr. Teng.
Similar to Omicron, doctors believe the symptoms with “Stealth Omicron” don’t appear to be as severe if you’re vaccinated.
“The concern is the peak down might be a little bit slower if the variant takes hold. That’s a concern,” said Dr. Lakshmi.