As if BA.4 and BA.5 aren’t already enough to worry about: some COVID-19 experts are sounding the alarm about BA.2.75, a new version of Omicron that evolved out of BA.2.
This subvariant was first identified in India in late May, and has now been reported in the U.K., Germany, and several other countries, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists are concerned because it has new spike protein mutations that could heighten its ability to bypass immunity from past infections or vaccinations—including, potentially, from BA.4 or BA.5.
At least three BA.2.75 cases have been reported in the U.S. so far, according to a Friday press release from the surveillance company Helix. Two of these cases were on the West Coast, in Washington and California. These cases are currently lumped in with other versions of BA.2 on the CDC dashboard.
The information on BA.2.75 is fairly preliminary at this point; the WHO is monitoring it as an additional lineage of Omicron, not a separate variant of concern, and watching for new data. It’s unclear how competitive it might be with BA.5, now dominant in the U.S., but is worth keeping an eye on. As Dr. Katelyn Jetelina points out in a recent issue of Your Local Epidemiologist, the spread of BA.2.75 could further complicate fall booster shot plans.
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