The “Stealth omicron” will soon become the dominant COVID strain in New Jersey. What awaits us in the future?

Omicron Stealth, Corona Virus Follow It emerged as the next dominant strain in the United States, and now accounts for 39% of all cases in New Jersey and New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. variable tracker.

cases Bachelor 2 It has doubled since the week ending March 5, the CDC says, and appears to overtake its viral cousin Omicron as the most common variant in the region.

Experts are not too worried, but they are watching the breed.

Variants and sub-variables such as stealth omicron may cause an increase in cases as mandates expire, said Dr. Suraj Sagar, chief of infectious diseases at Holy Name in Teaneck.

“At this point, in about four weeks’ time, you will (make up) the majority of oomicron cases in the country,” he said.

Experts say vaccines remain effective against BA.2, and those who have been infected with Omicron also have some immunity.

“I think we’re going to see an increase in cases,” Stephanie Silvera, an infectious disease expert and professor at Montclair State University, told NJ Advance Media earlier this week. “But I don’t think we’re going to see an increase in elevation in the same way that we’ve seen an increase in omicron use, where we’ve been having cases of over ten thousand and up” every day in New Jersey.

State officials are also paying attention as Omicron stealth cases increase.

“We are closely monitoring the recent rise in global COVID numbers, and given both past trends in terms of spread and our position as an international link for travel and trade, we anticipate that we will eventually see an increase in the number of cases in New Jersey,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and state health commissioner Judy Persicelli said in a statement. A joint statement Thursday afternoon. “We will continue to closely monitor virus activity in the state, particularly for impacts on our health care system.

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“However, at this time, we do not anticipate any need to bring back the comprehensive protection measures imposed at the state level.”

Stealth omicron, a genetically distinct branch of the omicron variant, accounts for 18% of the cases sampled in the Garden State, according to the most recent New Jersey Corona Virus Variable Report. That’s a significant increase from less than 3% in early February.

Dr. David Senemo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said the sample rate shows the variant is spreading, but he suspects another increase is on the way in Garden State.

Omicron stealth has already been deployed in Hong Kong, China and parts of Europe. It is “significantly more transmissible than BA.1 (omicron),” Sagar said, but it does not appear to be more virulent.

“It’s not unexpected that you’re likely to see a slight rise in cases,” he said. “It might be light. I wouldn’t expect it to be anywhere close to where it was with a delta or an omicron wave.”

Sagar and other experts note that other factors may be contributing to the rise in Europe and Asia. In China and Hong Kong, vaccination rates are low, and China is using a vaccine that is not as effective as the mRNA shots used in the United States

What about the parts of the world where vaccination rates are high?

Some kind of slight increase in cases is to be expected given the expiration of the mask mandates and other measures.

“Places like New Zealand, Australia and South Korea are seeing increases in infections, but not seeing increases in hospitalizations and deaths,” Sagar said.

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Here’s the key: There will be more infections, but they will likely be cases of mild disease for most patients, who won’t overwhelm hospitals and other health care centers.

This is the central philosophy behind the country’s shift to coexistence with the virus.

“We will not zero in COVID and we are not immune to the virus,” Murphy and Priscelli said in the statement. “We expect COVID to continue to mutate and cases to continue to ebb and flow. Transition to endemic still means that we all must take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

Activity in the UK is also up slightly, and the nation has been a predictor throughout the pandemic of what will happen in the US.

Sagar said there is nothing to be overly concerned about, even if an increase in cases is expected.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be overwhelming,” he said.

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Spencer Kent can be reached in skent@njadvancemedia.com.

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