SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Three cases of the new subvariant of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in San Diego County as health officials Wednesday again reminded residents to receive vaccine booster shots.
The new subvariant known as BA.2, or “stealth” omicron, has been found in more than 40 different countries. A team led by Dr. Louise Laurent of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and co-lead of the SEARCH Alliance discovered BA.2 in their most recent batch of sequencing, but they say so far, it doesn’t seem to be more severe or contagious.
“So far, it sounds like it is quite similar, clinically in terms of transmissibility and severity,” Laurent said. “But, again, it is a bit early for us to tell. Locally, we haven’t had that much experience with it.”
San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency said the first sub omicron variant was discovered in San Diego in December and most recently in January.
The county also reported 6,108 new COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths Wednesday. A total of 1,021,730 — or 49.9% of San Diegans who are fully vaccinated — have received a booster, according to the HHSA. Boosters are currently available for everyone 12 years and older.
“While we’re seeing more breakthrough infections due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, research has shown that people who have received their booster are not getting seriously ill and therefore do not end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. “San Diegans should get a booster immediately, if they are eligible.”
According to HHSA data, of the 996 hospitalizations reported between Dec. 14 and Jan. 12, a total of 91 San Diegans who were boosted ended up in the hospital.
The county has more than 400 vaccination sites including pharmacies, medical providers, clinics and county locations. You can also make an appointment or find a nearby site by calling 833-422-4255 or visiting the MyTurn or coronavirus-sd.com websites.
Wednesday’s data increased the county’s cumulative totals to 675,250 cases and 4,622 deaths.
The number of COVID-positive patients in San Diego County hospitals decreased by 12 people to 1,276, according to Wednesday’s state data.
Of those patients, 224 were in intensive care, down eight from Tuesday.
Some patients may have been hospitalized for other reasons and had their COVID status discovered by hospital-mandated tests.
The number of available ICU beds decreased by four to 174 on Wednesday.
More than 2.85 million or 90.8% of San Diegans age 5 and older are at least partially vaccinated and more than 2.51 million or 79.9% are fully vaccinated.
There were 42,736 new tests reported on Tuesday, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 26.6%, down from 27.5% on Friday. The county reports this figure on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.
FOX 5’s Clara Benitez contributed to this report.