Coronavirus

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Central District Health are announcing the first confirmed infection with the BA.2 sub-variant of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Ada County.

“The identification of the first infection with this sub-variant of omicron is a reminder that the virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to mutate as long as it is being transmitted and is a reminder of the importance of vaccination and other measures to protect yourself from this virus,” said Dr. Christine Hahn, state epidemiologist and the medical director for DHW’s Division of Public Health. “We will continue to monitor this and future variants and are committed to transparency in informing the public what we know when we know it."

The BA.1 lineage of omicron is currently causing 98 percent of all COVID-19 infections in Idaho, making the severity of illness and infectiousness from the BA.2 sub-variant unknown. Very early data from Asia and Europe indicate there have not been major differences in disease severity or the effectiveness of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines against the BA.2 sub-lineage.

However, COVID-19 treatments and vaccines may become less effective as mutations continue to emerge. In addition, natural immunity from infection with prior variants may not be protective against future variants.

“It is important to take steps to reduce transmission to reduce the chance of mutations and being up to date on vaccination is our best defense,” said Central District Health’s Communicable Disease Control Manager Lindsay Haskell. “All of Idaho is currently in high transmission and now is the time that everyone should take action to help reduce the spread.”

The BA.2 sub-variant has been identified in 22 U.S. states and at least 40 countries where it is reportedly spreading quickly.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s data dashboard does not report sub-variants of each World Health Organization variant separately. Additional cases of BA.2 will be included in the total number of omicron cases on the dashboard.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

Originally published on rexburgstandardjournal.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.