The latest variant of COVID-19 – dubbed BA.2.12.1 – has been linked to 43% of total coronavirus cases in the United States, up from 7% in April.
And, as more data about the variant becomes known, a pattern of early symptoms emerges. BA.2.12.1 is a descendant of the BA.2 virus, a subvariant of the omicron strain of COVID. It has the ability to transmit more easily than its predecessors and is expected to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 within weeks.
Like previous omicron COVID strains, BA.2.12.1 often exhibits upper respiratory tract symptoms that can resemble the flu. Experts said BA.2.12.1 triggers mild cases of breakthrough in vaccinated people, with people feeling like they’re suffering from a cold or seasonal allergies.
These early symptoms include scratching or sore throat, sneezing or runny nose.
These symptoms may remain mild or expand to include more traditional COVID symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Fever or chills
- Fatigue or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion, runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
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Because symptoms of BA.2.12.1 can be similar to seasonal allergies, people might be reluctant to test, allowing the highly contagious virus to spread quickly. Experts said BA.2.12.1 is around 25% more transmissible than the original Omicron which caused a sharp rise in cases in winter 2021.
The severity of COVID symptoms can be affected by a person’s vaccination status, according to the Centers for Disease Control. You can read more about vaccinations here.