When it first came onto the scene, the Omicron variant was the most transmissible version of COVID-19 we had ever seen, until now. The new subvariant spreading throughout is called BA.2.12.1.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, the public health officer for the County of Santa Barbara, says the virus mutated, calling it the next generation of Omicron.
“We don't know exactly why, but it's anywhere, almost 30% more able to spread compared to the previous version. And that's why it basically outperforms the older versions," said Dr. Ansorg.
He says there have been surges of the virus each summer and winter since the pandemic began.
“The Omicron was in January and then now in the spring, now it’s already soon summer. So I’m afraid, probably around September, October, we might see something maybe a little later,” added Dr. Ansorg.
People who became sick with the Omicron variant earlier in the year can become sick again with BA.2.12.1.
“The best protection is really to get vaccinated and having had an infection that gives so far the best protection for future variants, but it's no guarantee, unfortunately,” said Dr. Ansorg.
The County is very clear, they do not recommend going out and intentionally contracting the virus because a person could not control how dangerous the infection could be. The County still recommends wearing masks when around other people.
Dr. Ansorg said the original vaccine is not enough to fight off this surge, but there are new boosters in the works. “The companies, especially Pfizer and Moderna, are really working on a booster that will really be more potent against future variants,” he said.
According to the most recent numbers, California recorded 50% BA.2 and 50% BA.2.12.1 but that is expected to shift, with BA.2.12.1 growing in percentage.