Health officials keep close eye on COVID-19 omicron subvariant and its mutation as cases rise

Virus Outbreak South Korea Daily Life
Posted at 7:57 AM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 07:58:15-04

TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again across the United States and Florida. Experts are watching the omicron subvariant and its mutations.

“The cases are actually increasing both in Florida and across the United States right now,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished USF Health Professor.

“This thing is really now vying with measles for the most infectious respiratory virus known to man,” Unnasch added.

The original omicron variant caused a record number of COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the year. Researchers say BA.2 is not likely to make that big of an impact.

“Case numbers are going up a little bit, with doubling time now of about once every two weeks, we’re seeing a doubling in case numbers, but that’s a lot slower than what we saw with the omicron variant back in January where it was doubling once every three and a half days which was really, really scary,” said Unnasch.

Researchers believe the BA.2 subvariant has mutated a few times, increasing its infectiousness even more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates BA.2 and its mutation have accounted for about 93% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week.

“I’m thinking that we’re probably going to be reaching a peak of cases averaging about maybe about 3,000 or 4,000 a day maybe in the next 10 days or so and then we’re going to start to see a decline,” said Unnasch.

Health officials say the most important thing we need to pay attention to right now is hospitalizations and death.

“So we may see an uptick in cases but I’m not really thinking that we’re going to see a really serious uptick in hospitalizations and deaths,” said Unnasch.

“Which indicates I think that there’s enough immunity out there right now that people are getting pretty well protected against severe disease,” he added.

The one thing experts say could increase this peak is more people not wearing masks in crowded spaces.

“I think anytime we’ve seen before, we’ve seen a loosening of any of the public health measures, we’ve seen a little bump up in the total case numbers,” said Unnasch.