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Covid’s not gone, expect uptick in cases due to BA.2 subvariant: Fauci

Washington, March 21 (IANS) The Covid-19 pandemic is not over and the US is soon likely to see an uptick in cases due to the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, according to the country’s infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.

Fauci said that the BA.2 subvariant is estimated to account for about 25 or 30 per cent of new cases in the US, and could also become the most dominant variant in the country, CNBC reported.

While Fauci said he expects a rise in cases, it will not necessarily result in a massive surge like other variants have caused.

According to Fauci, who is also the White House chief medical advisor, BA.2 subvariant is about 50 to 60 per cent more transmissible than Omicron, yet it does not appear to be more severe.

“It does have increased transmission capability,” Fauci was quoted as saying on ABC News on Sunday.

“However, when you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infections.”

The variant has already caused cases to increase in China and several parts of Europe including the UK. Health officials continue to stress that coronavirus vaccines and boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.

Other US health experts are also warning about the emergence of the BA.2, sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron variant that led to a significant spike in cases in the US recently.

The variant could cause a new spike in cases but that the country is in a better position now than it was in the previous two years, when Covid-19 “defined our lives”, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was quoted as saying on Fox News on Sunday

“We should be prepared, Covid hasn’t gone away. Our focus should be on preparation, not on panic.”

Scott Gottlieb, a board member of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer and a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, similarly said he also expects “some uptick” due to BA.2 but “not a big wave of infection”.

“I think we’re going to continue to see low levels of infection through the summer. But before we get there, we’re probably going to see some tick-up of infection like the Europeans are seeing right now, maybe not as pronounced,” Gottlieb was quoted as saying on CBS.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 31,200 new Covid cases on Saturday, including 958 deaths.

However, both are significantly down from the beginning of the year, the report said.

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