New variant of Omicron: should people be worried?
Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro
As students return to in-person classes, scientists around the world are calling for more independent research into the new variant of the Omicron variant, BA. 2. Even though there are only a few confirmed cases in the United States, BA. 2 deserves some recognition since there is little known about the variant. In fact, this variant has earned the nickname “Stealth Omicron” because it has genetic traits that make it more difficult to identify with a PCR test.
Scientists say there is not enough evidence to prove BA. 2 is more deadly or more widespread than BA. 1, the current Omicron variant on the loose. “Variants have come, variants have gone,” said Robert Garry, a virologist at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. “I don’t think there’s any reason to think this one is a whole lot worse than the current version of omicron.”
High numbers of BA. 2 have been detected in Denmark, seeing an estimated six million people affected so far. Cases are also being reported in the United Kingdom and India. Cases of the new BA. 2 cases are increasing as the cases of the BA. 1 variant are declining internationally.
What does this mean for a college like RIC? There is nothing to be alarmed about currently. As of right now, there are only three confirmed cases of BA. 2, all of which are in Texas. The CDC, among other international groups, are closely monitoring this variant. It is important to be aware that this variant exists and could spread despite it not being an imposing threat currently.
The guidelines from the CDC remain the same: wear a mask and maintain social distancing of three feet from each other. It is stressed by experts not to become complacent with these recommendations as society continues to navigate its way through this pandemic. The most impact people could have is to follow the recommendations, as well as individually practice good health habits. These include adequate hydration, nutrition, sleep, exercise and acting appropriately when not feeling well. These measures can provide a form of protection from the virus.
Locally, Rhode Island’s cases are declining. Additional information about the measures the state is taking against the virus and variants can be found here and the current COVID guidelines RIC has in place can be found by visiting, https://www.ric.edu/meet-rhode-island-college/health-wellness/covid-19/ric-covid-19-plans/spring-2022-ric-covid-response-update.