While only three cases of the new COVID variant BA 2.75 have been detected in the U.S., it is rapidly spreading around the world and is raising alarm bells among health experts.
The variant -– a subvariant of Omicron -– has been detected in at least 10 countries, including Australia, Germany, the U.K., and Canada. BA 2.75 is beginning to spread more rapidly in India, making up at least 25% of all virus cases in the country, WXYZ, an ABC affiliate out of Detroit, reported.
BA 2.75 was first detected in India in early May but has not been deemed a “variant of concern” in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to date due to the low number of cases in the country. But the World Health Organization has warned that new variants of the virus are more contagious, according to KPIX, a CBS affiliate out of San Francisco.
The variant is causing concern due to its mutations that could possibly escape antibodies, Dr. Partha Nandi wrote in an article published by WXYZ. However, he said that current vaccines will provide protection against the variant as they are expected to combat severe disease and death from COVID-19.
There is still much unknown about BA 2.75, but scientists believe it may have a “growth advantage,” Nandi said, as a result of its high transmission rate in India. But experts are worried that some treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, may not be effective, and it could possibly elude current vaccines.
Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told WMAQ, an NBC affiliate out of Chicago that “It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions. But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase.”
Nandi recommends taking precautions and making sure to be up-to-date with COVID vaccinations, including boosters.
Binnicker agrees, telling WMAQ, “Some may say, ‘Well, vaccination and boosting hasn’t prevented people from getting infected.’ And, yes, that is true. But what we have seen is that the rates of people ending up in the hospital and dying have significantly decreased.
“As more people have been vaccinated, boosted or naturally infected, we are starting to see the background levels of immunity worldwide creep up.”