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2 new stealth omicron BA.2 cases reported are first in Miami-Dade County

New subvariant more transmissible than previous one
Omicron variant
Posted at 5:18 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 17:18:06-05

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. — Two new stealth omicron BA.2 variant cases have been reported from Miami-Dade County.

They are the first cases reported for the county.

Premier Medical Laboratory Services identified the cases Friday by Next Generation Sequencing at their medical diagnostics lab.

According to a statement released by the lab, "The BA.2 subvariant has been dubbed 'stealth omicron' because it is difficult to detect as a mutation by PCR-based testing, the most common testing method for COVID-19. With the original BA.1 strain, scientists could use PCR-based testing to help identify omicron by looking for a S-gene dropout mutation. Once this was found, the scientists could be fairly certain the positive COVID-19 sample was the omicron variant. The stealth omicron subvariant does not have the S-gene dropout characteristic, making it difficult to distinguish BA.2 as the omicron variant vs. other COVID-19 variants by PCR-based testing alone."

In Denmark, BA.2 is now outpacing its predecessor, omicron BA.1, because it is more transmissible than BA.1.

According to a study by Denmark's Statens Serum Institut, which analyzed COVID-19 cases in over 8,000 Danish households between December and January, people infected with the BA.2 subvariant were roughly 33% more likely to infect others, compared to those infected with BA.1.

The subvariant is currently present in 57 countries around the world.

It is expected that COVID-19 vaccines will lessen the chances of severe illness for those infected with the BA.2 subvariant.

As of Tuesday, Florida had only reported two cases of BA.2. The two new cases reported in Miami-Dade County bring the total number of cases in Florida to four.