BOISE, Idaho — A sub-variant of the Omicron COVID-19 was confirmed for the first time in Ada County, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced Friday.
The infectiousness and severity of Omicron sub-lineage BA.2 is unknown. The earlier Omicron variant, BA.1, is responsible for 98% of the current infections in the Treasure Valley, according to Health and Welfare.
"The identification of the first infection with this sub-variant of Omicron is a reminder that the virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to mutate as long as it is being transmitted, and is a reminder of the importance of vaccination and other measures to protect yourself from this virus," said Dr. Christine Hahn, state epidemiologist and the medical director for DHW's Division of Public Health. "We will continue to monitor this and future variants and are committed to transparency in informing the public what we know when we know it."
Very early information from Asia and Europe suggests there may not be a major difference in BA.2's severity or the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against it. However, treatment and vaccines may become less effective as further mutations emerge, health officials say, underscoring the need to cut down on the number of infections now.
"It is important to take steps to reduce transmission to reduce the chance of mutations, and being up to date on vaccination is our best defense," said Central District Health's Communicable Disease Control Manager Lindsay Haskell. "All of Idaho is currently in high transmission and now is the time that everyone should take action to help reduce the spread."
The BA.2 sub-variant has been found in 22 states and at least 40 countries, "where it is reportedly spreading quickly," according to Health and Welfare.
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