Another, more contagious COVID-19 variant has been detected, and experts believe it is contributing to an increase is cases in different parts of the world.
Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert, Dr. Gregory Poland, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the new COVID-19 variant, BA2.212.1, has created a surge in the central portion of New York state and in South Africa, where it originated. Scientists are keeping a close eye on it because it is 30% more transmissible than the Omicron variant and initial lab tests show it evades current vaccines.
“Using human sera in hamsters, a hamster model, but it’s a good model, the vaccines didn’t offer much of any benefit in the face of these new, almost — I call them super variants — and that’s a problem,” said Poland.
Poland said the new variant is likely playing a role in the recent increase of new cases across the country and in Minnesota where those numbers rose from 1,000 new cases last week to roughly 2,500 new cases this week, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
And, Poland said, Minnesotans, like many other parts of the country, have what he described as “COVID complacency.”
“We are pretending societally that the pandemic is over, and it is not,” said Poland. “Cases in the U.S. have increased by about 50% since we took masks off.”
Dr. Peter Bornstein, St. Paul Infectious Disease Associates, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the BA2.212.1 variant is “concerning,” and urged anyone 50-years-old and older to get a second round of the booster shots to help prevent another surge in Minnesota.
“There’s quite a few people in our country who don’t know that they’re immuno-compromised. They have unrecognized diabetes. They have unrecognized high blood pressure. They don’t know. Those people are pretty vulnerable,” said Bornstein. “So, 50 and older is a very prudent recommendation by the FDA and the CDC for the second booster.”