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3.24.22 – What is the BA2 Variant?

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the health officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. The COVID vaccines, masks, at home testing, and treatment are how you can continue to protect you and your loved ones from COVID. Today, let’s talk about the BA2 variant.

What is the BA2 variant?
Viruses change through mutations. This is a normal process that happens with all viruses. With COVID, when a strain has different properties such as spreading more easily, causing more severe disease, or not being as responsive to medications or vaccines, we call it a variant and track it. BA2 is a variant related to Omicron. BA2 spreads about 40% more easily than Omicron and causes the same severity of disease.

What should I do about BA2?
The good news is that compared to 3 months ago when Omicron was spreading, we now have more tools to keep ourselves safer at all times.
• Get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines are your best line of defense, so stay up to date.
• If you have symptoms, get tested, either with at-home tests or by PCR.
• If you have COVID and are at higher risk for severe disease, see your doctor or go to an urgent care center right away. They can prescribe oral treatment that will help you fight COVID.

• While BA2 is spreading, people at higher risk of severe disease should consider masking in indoor public settings until rates go down.

How can I be prepared?
• Get vaccinated if you’re not up-to-date on your vaccines. You can find sites at aacounty.org/covidvax
• Stock up on masks and at-home tests. They’re available at libraries and health department sites near you.
• Have your primary care provider’s number and an urgent care center’s number available if you do have COVID so that you can get evaluated for treatment.

We’re in a much better position than just 3 months ago to handle this variant. We have the tools we need to keep people safer and healthier. If you use all these tools, you can protect you and your family from the severe effects of COVID.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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