dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House and director of the NIAID, answers questions from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 2022 in Washington , DC

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US health experts warn that an emerging highly contagious Covid-omicron variant called BA.2 could soon lead to another surge in domestic coronavirus cases.

White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, said BA.2 is about 50% to 60% more transmissible than omicron, but it doesn’t appear to be more serious. Health officials continue to emphasize coronavirus vaccines and boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.

“It has increased transmission capacity,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “However, if you look at the cases, they don’t seem to be more serious and they don’t seem to evade the immune responses of vaccines or previous infections.”

The variant has already caused the number of cases to increase in China and parts of Europe. It is estimated to account for about 25% or 30% of new cases in the US, but it could become the most dominant variety in the country, Fauci said.

Fauci said he expects “an increase in cases” as a result of BA.2, but not necessarily a huge increase like other variants have caused. That’s despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaxed mask recommendations for most Americans.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a board member of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer and a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, also expressed similar views on BA.2 on Sunday.

Murthy said the variant could trigger another spike in cases, but the country is now in a better position than it was in the previous two years when Covid-19 “ruled our lives”.

“We have to be prepared, Covid is not gone,” Murthy said on “Fox News Sunday”. “Our focus should be on preparation, not on panic.”

Gottlieb, echoing comments made days earlier to CNBC, said he also expects “some increase” as a result of BA.2 but “not a major wave of infection.”

“I think we will continue to see low levels of infection all summer. But before we get there, we will probably see a sign of infection as Europeans are seeing now, maybe not quite as pronounced,” Gottlieb said on ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday. ‘ from CBS.

The CDC reported more than 31,200 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, including 958 deaths. Both are significantly lower than at the beginning of the year.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a contributor to CNBC and serves on the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing start-up Tempus, healthcare technology company Aetion and biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.

This post Health experts predict a rise in the number of Covid cases in the US due to the new BA.2 variant

was original published at “https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/20/health-experts-predict-uptick-in-us-covid-cases-due-to-new-bapoint2-variant.html”