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CLEVELAND (WJW) — As COVID cases decrease, there is some concern surrounding a subvariant of omicron called BA.2.

A new study shows it has the potential to be a more severe and transmissible form of the virus.
“I think it’s very early to have a clear picture,” said Dr. Daniel Rhoads, section head of microbiology at the Cleveland Clinic.

The Japanese study of BA.2 is among the first to compare the original strain of omicron known as BA.1.

“It looks like BA.2 might be more severe than BA.1 so that’s concerning,” said Dr. Rhoads. “I think there is kind of a growing consensus that BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1. That’s still early, but it seems like that might be the case, but how sick it makes somebody compared to BA.1 is still being studied.”

The subvariant is referred to by some as “stealth omicron,” a phrase the doctor said can be a bit misleading considering it is detectable by many COVID tests including at the Cleveland Clinic lab.

“We have detected it at Cleveland Clinic, and it has been detected in Ohio,” said Dr. Rhoads. “It’s now on the radar. We are detecting it but it’s definitely a minority of the cases that we’ve encountered so far.”

Dr. Rhoads said additional studies are needed to better understand the subvariant and if it has the power to halt moving from pandemic to endemic.

“We’re all anxious to get past the variants and get to some kind of steady state but I think it’s anybody’s guess when that will happen,” he said.