In a new study from the University of Copenhagen and elsewhere, researchers found that the omicron subvariant is more contagious and better at evading vaccines than any other Covid strain.
They found the new subvariant spread more easily across all groups regardless of sex, age, household size and vaccination status.
They also found vaccinated people don’t transmit it as easily as the unvaccinated.
According to the World Health Organization, the probability for spreading within a household was 39% for omicron BA.2 versus 29% for omicron BA.1, the original omicron strain that was dominant worldwide as of Jan. 19.
In the study, the team showed that BA.2 is more contagious than the original BA.1 strain among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, but the relative increase in susceptibility to infection was significantly greater in vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals.
This suggests that the subvariant is even better at escaping vaccine protection than BA.1, which was already significantly more contagious than any other Covid variant.
Researchers also found that transmission rates among unvaccinated people were higher with BA.2 compared to BA.1, which means unvaccinated people were carrying a higher viral load with BA.2.
Although fully vaccinated people are more likely to catch BA.2 than the previous strain, they are less likely to spread it to others.
In addition, people who received a booster were even less likely to transmit the virus than people who were fully vaccinated.
The team says after a breakthrough infection, vaccination protects against further transmission, and more so for BA.2 than BA.1.
The study also suggests that the higher susceptibility to infection and greater transmissibility of BA.2 will likely result in the more extensive spread of the virus among unvaccinated kids in schools and daycare.
More than half of the states in the U.S. have detected BA.2, with a total of 194 confirmed cases nationwide so far, according to a global database of Covid variants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement Friday, said BA.2 is currently circulating at a very low level in the U.S.
For more information about Covid, please see recent studies that even symptom-free, people with Omicron are much more likely to spread COVID, and results showing that Omicron can be neutralized by a booster dose.
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