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A guide to the different sub-options of Omicron

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A guide to the different sub-options of Omicron

Two years after the coronavirus pandemic, Americans can be forgiven if they have lost the latest options that are spreading across the country and around the world. We’ve heard of alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron variants, but the new version with Greek letters hasn’t appeared on the scene in almost six months.

Instead, the last few months have seen a seemingly endless stream of “subvariants” of the omicron, the latest version of Greek letters.

How different are these sub-options? Can infection with one sub-variant protect someone from infection with another sub-variant? And how well do the existing coronavirus vaccines that were developed before Omicron work against sub-variants?

We asked these and other questions to medical and epidemiological specialists. Here is a summary.

Q: What are the sub-options? How different are they from each other?

Omicron subvariants seem to be an alphabetic soup of letters and numbers. The original version of the omicron was called B.1.1.529. The initial version of the amicron spawned subvariants such as BA.1; BA.1.1; BA.2; BA.2.12.1; BA.3; and most recently, BA.4 and BA.5.

“They all differ from each other in that they have different mutations protein thorns”Which is part of a virus that enters host cells and causes infection, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

From minor to modest mutations in these subvariants, they may be slightly more transmitted from person to person. Generally, the higher the number after “BA” in the subvariant name, the more portable this subvariant is. For example, BA.2 thought to be about 30% to 60% more transmission than previous sub-options.

These mutations allowed only the subvariants to spread widely be overtaken slightly more transmissible subvariant for several weeks. Then the process is repeated.

In the United States, for example, BA.1.1 dominated in late January, surpassing the original version, B.1.1.529. But by mid-March BA.1.1 had begun to lose ground BA.2, which became dominant by early April. By the end of April, another sub-variant – BA.2.12.1 – was gaining momentum, accounting for almost 29% of infections, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The Delta Wave at the end of 2021 was not a factor during this time period.)

Q: What about the severity of the disease?

Fortunately, diseases caused by omicron were usually less severe than diseases caused by previous variants – a pattern that appears to persist for all subvariants studied to date. One analysis from Denmark showed that BA.2 does not cause more hospitalization than sub-option BA.1, Gandhi said.

Even the most recent sub-variants that have been discovered, BA.4 and BA.5“There’s no evidence that it’s more disturbing than the original Omicron, other than a potentially slight increase in tolerability,” said Brooke Nichols, a developer of mathematical models of infectious diseases at Boston University.

Dennis Cunningham, Health Ford’s Systemic Director for Infection Control and Prevention in Detroit, Detroit, told NBC News that the symptoms of omicron subvariants “were fairly consistent. There are fewer cases where people lose their sense of taste and smell. In many ways it is a bad cold, a lot of respiratory symptoms, stuffy nose, cough, body aches and fatigue.

Q: If you become infected with one sub-variant, will you be protected from others?

So far in all variants to date, the virus’s ability to evade existing immune defenses “is only partialit looks like seasonal flu, ”said Colin Russell, a professor of applied evolutionary biology at the University of Amsterdam Medical Center.

While some people who had BA.1 also received BA.2, initial studies show that BA infection. 1 “Provides reliable protection against re-infection with BA.2”, World Health Organization said.

“This may explain why our BA.2 surge in the US was not as big as the very big BA.1 surge in the winter,” Gandhi said.

The level of protection can vary depending on how sick you are: mild cases strengthen the immune system, perhaps for a month or two, and recovery from a serious illness – up to a year.

Q: How do existing COVID-19 vaccines match these sub-options?

Although current vaccines and boosters are not as successful in protecting against omicrons as in previous versions, they usually protect people from serious diseases when they are infected with one of the new sub-variants.

“We are resilient when she uses the vaccines we use,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University. “I have not seen any study in this area that shows a significant difference between vaccine responses to omicron subvariants.”

Vaccines generate cells known as “memory B cells” and were shown to recognize different options when they appear, Gandhi said. Vaccines also trigger the production of T cells, which protect against serious diseasesshe said.

“While B cells serve as memory banks for the production of antibodies when needed, T cells enhance the body’s response to the virus and help attract cells for direct attack by the pathogen,” Gandhi said.

The end result is that a breakthrough infection for the vaccinated person “should remain easy with the sub-variants,” she said.

Widespread in the U.S. of a relatively mild strain of the virus has probably brought dividends, providing many Americans with some immunity, whether they have been vaccinated or not. Studies show that people who were vaccinated and then infected had even greater protection than people who were vaccinated and did not get COVID.

“This family of omicrons can really offer a bright side,” during the pandemic, Schaffner said.

Going forward, vaccine manufacturers are starting to develop vaccines targeting omicron, and some are combining a coronavirus vaccine with a seasonal flu vaccine in a single dose. But those vaccines are in their infancy, and Schaffner said he suspects they won’t be ready and approved before the flu vaccination season this fall.

Whether such new vaccines are the next step in the fight against Covid will be decided by the FDA and the CDC.

Q: Are there completely new options on the horizon?

Experts agree that the only newcomers in recent weeks were additional options – of course, nothing has changed in the game as a delta or omicron, when they first appeared.

“We don’t know anything about it yet, and the surveillance is very aggressive,” Schaffner said.

There are such estimates more than 60% of the world’s population exposed to omicron and more 65% of the world’s population Gandhi received at least one dose of the vaccine, “so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the development of new options has slowed with such a degree of immunity.”

Gandhi acknowledged some surprise at how quiet the horizon is now, but she sees this as a positive development.

“It’s been five months since we heard about the new version, which, I hope, reflects the increase in immunity in the world,” she said.

HN (Kaiser Health News) is a national news outlet that publishes in-depth journalism on health issues. Along with policy analysis and surveys, KHN is one of the three major operational programs KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a non-profit organization that provides the nation with information on health issues.

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