The COVID-19 Pandemic and the New Omicron Subvariant BA.2

Will the rise of the new Omicron subvariant change the pandemic’s trajectory?


Jinzhou Lin / Unsplash

Here is a drawing based on the real structure of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

On March 22nd, 2022, the World Health Organization announced a new Omicron subvariant known as BA.2, which shares its similarities with its other variants. BA.2 has been rapidly spreading throughout the U.S., yet there is no need for alarm, as health experts have not identified it to be more severe than its relatives. As New York State Governor Hochul said, “The weather is warmer, and the days are longer, but now is not the time to let our guard down in the fight against this virus.”

From once being the epicenter of the pandemic, New York City has come a long way over the past few months. The omicron variant, otherwise known as the COVID-19 variant that has recently presented a challenge for the United States in early January 2022, did drop precipitously in February and March 2022. From its initial peak in mid-January 2022, the overall number of cases gradually decreased to the point where people were calling for the pandemic to finally be classified as endemic, from a world-wide threat to a threat more contained to certain areas. On February 24th, 2022, Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton told analysts that, “We do believe that we are transitioning into an endemic phase marked by a period of stability in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths at least in the Northern Hemisphere.”

However, with the rise of the Omicron subvariant BA.2, an average of 2,511 COVID-19 cases per day are being reported in New York City as of this article’s publication on April 24th, 2022, which represents a 49 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. 

The original Omicron variant and the new Omicron subvariant BA.2 present a great obstacle amidst the already ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For those not familiar with the variant, Omicron is highly contagious, although it is fortunately often less severe than previous variants. 

Throughout the United States, cases of COVID-19 had significantly decreased during February and March 2022, to the point where New York State Governor Kathy Hochul lifted the mask mandate for K-12 schools. On March 4th, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams proudly proclaimed that, “New Yorkers should be getting out and enjoying our amazing city. The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back.” Governor Kathy Hochul has also lifted the mask and  vaccination requirement for indoor businesses and facilities statewide, although there is still the option for the facilities themselves to enforce the requirements.

It remains to be seen if the rise of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 will change the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months to come. 

You can track the numbers of new COVID-29 cases in New York City here

It has been a long journey, from the COVID-19 pandemic’s beginnings in December 2019, and it appears that the pandemic still is not finished, given the Omicron subvariant BA.2. 

The original Omicron variant and the new Omicron subvariant BA.2 present a great obstacle amidst the already ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.