BA.2.12.1 COVID subvariant now dominant strain in U.S.: What are the symptoms?
BA.2.12.1, the latest subvariant blazing through the U.S., is now to blame for almost 60% of all COVID cases in the country.
BA.2.12.1 has a mutation on the part of the spike protein of the virus that binds with human cells and initial research indicates it may be about 25% more transmissible than BA.2, New York Magazine reported. There is no evidence indicating BA.2.12.1 is causing more severe illnesses but has triggered another U.S. wave of cases and an uptick in hospitalizations.
The U.S. is currently reporting around 110,000 cases a day, five times that of the year before at the same time period. This number is likely an undercount as more people are utilizing rapid at-home tests or skipping testing altogether. Large portions of the country, particularly the Northwest, Midwest, Florida and the West Coast, are seeing the medium to high levels of transmission.
Nearly 300 U.S. counties, about 9% of all of them, now meet the high risk level for COVID community spread, according to the CDC. This number has more than quintupled since the first week of May, when just 56 met the standard.
While research continues, symptom patterns for BA.2.12.1 are emerging. Like previous COVID strains, BA.2.12.1 often presents with upper respiratory symptoms that can appear like a bad cold, flu or seasonal allergies.
Early symptoms often include a scratchy or sore throat, sneezing or runny nose. These symptoms can remain mild or develop into more classic COVID symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Fever or chills
- Fatigue or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion, runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
People at higher risk for developing severe illness from BA.2.12.1 are the unvaccinated, experts said. People who are fully vaccinated, including having a booster, are at less risk of severe illness.
As of May 31, 258.6 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 221.3 that are fully vaccinated. More than 103.4 million people have received a COVID-19 booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control.