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Santa Barbara County health experts discuss new Omicron subvariant BA.2


SANTA MARIA, Calif. - As the Omicron variant makes its way across Santa Barbara County, there’s a new subvariant coming to town.

"The newest variant that we’ve seen is the BA.2 variance of COVID-19 ... and
some call it the stealth variant because in some other countries it had
evaded some of the PCR testing … and so patients were coming up negative
when they actually had COVID-19," said Dr. Scott Robertson at Marian Regional Medical Center.

But as Dr. Alicia Gonzalez at Marian Regional
Medical Center explains, the very nature of viruses, is to change.

"They’re not smart beings ... they aren’t changing on purpose ... but that
just is what happens ... and so I kind of think sometimes it feels a little
bit dramatic that all these news strains are coming out ... that is the
normal evolution of a virus," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez says for any virus, it will continue to mutate, and come up with
all sorts of different variants, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.

"The fortunate thing is so far the ones we’re seeing have become a little
less deadly more recently," said Gonzalez.

Even though the BA.2 variant is more transmissible than Omicron, Robertson
says it does not appear to be any more virulent.

"We’ll have to keep a close eye on this ... we still expect a surge to
continuously decline ... but it’s possible that a new variant could extend it
out for a longer period of time than we originally anticipated," said Robertson.

Robertson and Gonzalez believe the BA.2 variant is susceptible to the
vaccines being given across the world.

"In the meantime ... get vaccinated ... protect yourself. Thankfully the
data shows the vaccine really does save lives," said Gonzalez.

The BA.2 Omicron has spread to about 50 countries, including the U.S.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Patricia Martellotti

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