AUSTIN (KXAN) — The same day Austin-Travis County’s health authority announced the local COVID-19 risk-based stage system was going to dissolve, and that Austin Public Health would adopt the CDC’s model, the health authority also noted Texas is seeing an uptick in the number of BA.2 subvariant cases being reported in Texas.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) variant dashboard, roughly 30% of the reported COVID-19 cases in the state are the BA.2 subvariant. The overwhelming majority of other cases reported are the omicron variant, according to that data.
“We’re picking this up also in wastewater, it’s starting to increase as well,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the health authority, said. “I bring this up to say that we’re now taking a break as it were, but we still need to be mindful of what has worked in the past to keep our case numbers down.”
If I got omicron, will I get BA.2?
When cases of BA.2 were first being identified in Texas, Austin Public Health told KXAN having BA.1 (the traditional omicron strain) is likely to protect against BA.2.
As with all versions of this virus, reinfections are possible. Health leaders maintain the best protection against getting COVID-19 is to be up-to-date on vaccinations.
How does this compare to omicron?
According to Dr. Desmar Walkes, the health authority, BA.2 has similar characteristics to omicron.
“BA.2 is a sublineage of the omicron variant — in other words it is a sister to BA.1 and BA.3, so it will behave similarly,” William Malm, an APH spokesperson, wrote at the time. He added early reports show BA.2 might be more transmissible than omicron, but severity of illness and vaccine effectiveness are similar.