Over time, it’s normal for a virus to evolve through mutation. This has happened to the SARS-CoV-2 virus many times, leading to several notable COVID-19 variants.
The Delta variant causes more severe illness and may be more easily transmissible than previous variants. It was first identified in late 2020 and spread rapidly. The Omicron variant is now more widespread than Delta.
More transmissible than previous variants but with less severe symptoms, Omicron is the dominant COVID-19 variant today. It has several subvariants, including BA.1 and its sublineage, BA.1.1. The most common subvariant is now BA.2.
Omicron BA.2 Subvariant
The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is 40% more transmissible than BA.1 but is no more severe. Both variants have a short incubation period of just three days on average. Meaning you will notice symptoms three days after exposure. Runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat are more common with BA.2.
The XE variant of COVID-19 is called a recombinant virus because it contains a mixture of genetic material from multiple viruses. A combination of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants, XE is 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 variant. It is not yet known if the symptoms of XE are more severe than in previous variants.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
How to Protect Yourself from the New COVID-19 Variants
At our 55 clinics across the Midwest, COVID-19 positivity rates are going up. On average, 16% of people who received COVID-19 tests at our clinics from April 1st have tested positive. It is essential to continue taking precautions against the virus.
If you’re not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, consider getting your shots at your doctor’s office. Vaccination still provides the best protection against COVID-19, even if you’ve been infected with COVID-19 in the past. Vaccinated people are at a lower risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
Continue to follow all public health orders, monitor yourself for symptoms, and stay home when sick. Visit a local clinic for testing and medical treatment for COVID-19.