Just last week we shared the odd phenomenon that while many patients infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have escaped serious illness, daily deaths have increased since it became the dominant type of SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially in patients 75 years of age and older. Now preliminary data released by BioRxiv indicates that it might not be Omicron so much as its recently discovered subvariant BA.2 that’s to blame. The researchers found that hamsters infected with BA.2 experienced more lung damage and loss of body weight compared with those infected with BA.1. Results of the same process using mice were similar. The authors also reported that while “BA.1 and BA.2 both appear to evade immunity created by COVID-19 vaccines…therapeutic monoclonal antibodies used to treat people infected with COVID didn’t have much effect on BA.2.”

Update: Subvariant BA.2, Not Omicron Overall, May Be the Culprit in Disproportionate Deaths
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