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Gottlieb: Omicron Immunity Will Be A ‘Backstop’ Against New COVID Variant BA.2

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Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb dismissed fears that an emerging COVID variant, BA.2, was cause for concern.

Though the strain appears to be more transmissible, Gottlieb suggested that a “fully boosted person may be more protected against this new variant than the original strain of omicron.”

“So if you have omicron protection, you should have protection against this new variant. That’s why I don’t think this will create a huge wave of infection. What is likely to happen, as we’re coming down, and we’re coming down quite sharply in parts of the northeast, Florida and the mid-Atlantic, you might see as this new strain starts to pick up, we start to slow down in that decline, but the decline will happen nonetheless … We have so much omicron immunity, it will probably be a backstop against this really taking off,” he added. (RELATED: Could Omicron Finally ‘Shut Down The Virus?’ These Experts Says Yes)

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BA.2, a “spin-off” of the Omicron variant was first identified in early December and has since been reported in 49 countries, including the U.S., according to CNN.

“Among all the lineages of Omicron, this is the one showing a higher increase of cases. But we have to be careful in interpreting that, because higher increases from a very low number are easier to observe,” Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, assistant professor of medicine for infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago told CNN.

Though it is 1.5 times more transmissible, the World Health Organization has not labeled it a variant of concern, according to CNBC. World Health Organization (WHO) officials warn though, that new variants will arise as omicron spreads across the world at an unprecedented rate.

“The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead said. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.” (RELATED: Study: More Than Half Of Omicron Hospitalizations Weren’t Actually For COVID-19)