Omicron BA.2 subvariant on rise in Georgia
Just as we thought it was safe to get rid of our face masks, BA.2, a subvariant of the omicron variant, is gaining traction in Georgia and across the country.
Over the past few weeks, the public has rejoiced over the good news about the reduction of COVID-19 in Georgia with hospitalization for COVID-19 at its lowest point in eight months, among other improvements. This news is short-lived as health officials are suggesting that infections in Georgia could climb again because of subvariant BA.2.
In southern states, including Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, the federal agency reports 12.4% of the circulating viruses are BA.2, while the rest are the original omicron. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.2 sublineage of the omicron variant now makes up nearly 25% of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S., up from 10% a week earlier. Dr. Jesse Couk, an infectious disease doctor at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital points to cases that are climbing again. Caulk and others say BA.2 could soon become the dominant variant in the U.S.
Health experts are saying that it’s possible a rise in BA.2 might not lead to another massive surge of cases and hospitalizations here, but point to vaccinations and immunity that may cushion the impact. This news places Georgia in a vulnerable position due to the states’ low rates of vaccination and boosters compared to other states with higher numbers in both categories.
Here’s Georgia by the numbers:
56% of Georgians are fully vaccinated
40% of Georgians who are fully vaccinated are also boosted
22% of Georgians are fully vaccinated and boosted.
A number of studies indicate BA.2 spreads even more easily from person to person. However, it does not appear to cause more severe disease. Vaccines continue to be extremely effective in protecting people from severe disease, especially for those who have been boosted.
Health officials continue to encourage people who had COVID-19 in the past to get vaccinated for longer, stronger immunity.