Q&A with SyneuRx Chief Scientist and CEO, Dr. Emil Tsai: What Are The Top Symptoms of The BA.2 Variant and Is It a Major Cause of Concern?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, the public has been told that new variants should be expected as part of the evolution of the virus. At the beginning of 2022, researchers began keeping an eye on a new subvariant known as BA.2.

March 30, 2022

While many epidemiologists doubt BA.2 will cause a large-scale spike in cases, it is highly transmissible. We sat down with SyneuRx Chief Scientist and CEO., Dr. Emil Tsai, to learn if and how the symptoms of BA.2 differ from previous variants and if there is cause for major concern by the public.

Q: What is the BA.2 variant?

A: The BA.2 variant is a mutation or subvariant of the BA.1 variant commonly known as Omicron. Omicron was a mutation of the original COVID-19 virus and BA.2 is a mutation of Omicron or BA1.

Q: What do we know about BA.2 so far?

A: Currently, the BA.2 variant is responsible for the surge in Europe and some East Coast cities. Approximately 30% of cases in the U.S. are the BA.2 variant, but it is gaining momentum. BA.2 is much more infectious than Omnicom. However, it does not have increased severity of illness or death. It is predicted that BA.2 will become the dominant COVID-19 strain within weeks or months in the U.S.

Q: Could Europe’s rise in cases be a signal of what’s to come for the U.S.?

A: Yes, Europe is a leading indicator of what will happen in the U.S. based on what has happened in the past with COVID-19. It is currently the dominant variant in Europe and is predicted to be the predominant strain in the U.S. in the near future.

Q: How much should you worry about B.A.2 if you’re vaccinated?

A: Your level of risk is dependent on the date of your last vaccination as well as other factors, such as if you are moderately or severely immunocompromised. If you were vaccinated in the last few months, you would most likely be fine. You will probably have little to no symptoms, or you may have flu-like symptoms. If your vaccination was longer than six months ago, you are elderly, or you have an underlying medical condition such as obesity, cardiovascular disorder, respiratory disorder, etc., then you are at higher risk and should take precautionary measures based on your own medical circumstances and tolerance of risk.

Q: What are the BA.2 variant symptoms?

A: Again, this is dependent on how recently you were vaccinated, your age and any underlying medical conditions that you may have. If you are vaccinated, young, and do not have any medical conditions, your symptoms could range from no symptoms to flu-like symptoms. If you were vaccinated longer than six months ago, are elderly, or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms could be much more severe. BA.2 symptoms are similar to those seen with the other variants of COVID-19 and depend on the person and their risk factors.

Q: What order do they appear in?

A: The symptoms and the order they appear can differ for each infected person. Half of those infected may be asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms, while others may have flu-like symptoms or lose their sense of taste or smell. The exact symptoms or the order in which they appear can range drastically. That is why it is essential to be tested if you encounter someone infected with COVID-19 or have any symptoms. Testing is not just for your protection but also for the protection of those you encounter daily.

Q; How severe are BA.2 variant symptoms?

A: There isn’t an easy answer to this question because it’s dependent on several factors. COVID-19 symptoms and their severity can range from being asymptomatic to death. If your vaccination isn’t up-to-date or you fall into specific categories, symptoms can be very severe. It is well known that symptoms progress in severity depending on your age, underlying medical conditions and vaccination status.

Q: How can we stay safe?

A: We don’t live in isolation, so we must take precautions. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could be infected and pass it on to people around you. As individuals, we can stay safe by following the C.D.C. guidelines and getting vaccinated. Still, we must think of others by getting vaccinated, keeping our distance from those who can’t get vaccinated, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. We must also get tested whenever we are in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, do our part to avoid large crowds, and wear high-quality masks (N95, KN95 or KF94) in indoor spaces because of this very contagious coronavirus strain.