As coronavirus case numbers in the U.S. show early signs of tapering, scientists are keeping a watchful eye on a newly identified version of the omicron variant, nicknamed “stealth omicron,” that is driving new outbreaks in parts of Europe.The culprit is a “subvariant” of the omicron variant, which means it’s closely related to omicron but has some different mutations. Known officially as BA.2, the subtype has small variations that set it apart from the original omicron strain but not enough for it to be considered an entirely new lineage.”You could say they’re like brothers in the same family,” said infectious diseases expert Cameron Wolfe, an associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine. “There are some subtle differences, but most of the genetics are the same in both.”Researchers are trying to learn as much as they can about BA.2; here’s what’s known about it so far.Why is it known as ‘stealth’ omicron?Unlike what its nickname might suggest, the BA.2 subtype isn’t known as “stealth” omicron because it’s difficult to find. The nickname comes from a shortcut that helped researchers quickly identify omicron in PCR tests. Because of a quirk in omicron’s genetic sequence, PCR test results looked

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