An omicron variant has been detected in the District, Maryland, and Virginia but it doesn’t appear to produce a spike in coronavirus cases, says Dr. Andy Pekosz, professor and virologist with the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.
The original omicron variant, which increased cases substantially over the winter, is labeled as the BA.1, while the new subvariant is known as BA.2.
“I think it’s important to note that while case numbers of BA.2 are increasing, they’re not increasing anywhere close to the way that the BA.1 cases increased,” said Pekosz in an interview with WTOP News.
Pekosz said the omicron subvariant may not spread as efficiently as the original. He said early results from studies of the subvariant reveal that people who had the original omicron may have “descent protection” from it but stressed that conclusion isn’t guaranteed.
Pekosz said people who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster should have good protection against the subvariant.
Additionally, in the D.C. area, some communities are lifting coronavirus restrictions, a development Pekosz finds somewhat troubling. He believes that the number of cases—which have been falling for over two weeks-could rebound if the lifting of restrictions happens too soon.
“I imagine another week or two and if these trends continue, we’ll really be settling in at a very comfortable place in terms of the manageable amount of cases. And, that might be a really good time to start thinking about relieving some of these public health interventions,” he said.