TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new variant of COVID-19, a descendant of the Omicron variant, has started spreading in states across the U.S.
At least 92 cases of the BA. 2 omicron subvariant have been detected in over 20 U.S. states, including California and Texas. There are no known cases in Florida at this time.
There is no evidence so far that it’s spreading faster than Omicron’s dominant substrain, BA. 1, which accounts for more than 99% of cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The BA. 2 cases come as Pfizer and BioNTech launch clinical trials on a new vaccine that targets the COVID-19 omicron variant.
The approval process is not expected to take long, according to Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a health professor at the University of South Florida Health who researches vector-borne diseases.
“The FDA has decided these are going to get accelerated approval. So, it’s going to be a lot more like the flu vaccines. They don’t have to run big, large scale trials on every flu vaccine, every year to show it’s safe and effective. They know that, so, they know it’s okay to accelerate the whole thing,” Dr. Unnasch explained.
Dr. Unnasch suggests families consider getting the new shot if and when it becomes available. He says it will likely protect against Omicron and other developing strains of the virus.
“I think what’s going to happen is they’re going to have a cocktail of a whole variety of different versions of this thing that you’ll get the shot for, then you’ll be protected for five or six different possibilities,” he said.
And it shouldn’t take long for scientists to develop more shots against COVID in the future, according to Dr. Unnasch.
“The nice thing about the mRNA vaccines is that they’re really, really easy to modify. These things, they can modify them very quickly. Honestly, it probably takes them about a week to make the modifications and then, of course, it’s going to take a lot longer for them to produce it in bulk and roll it out,” he said.