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People With BA.2 Usually Feel This at the Beginning

A new subvariant brought new twists and turns.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken another turn thanks to BA.2, the subvariant of Omicron that caused major surges in Europe earlier this year. BA.2 is now the dominant form of COVID in the U.S., and although it's unclear whether the disease will take the same course on these shores, researchers do have a clear idea about how its symptoms compare to Omicron and Delta. Here's the latest on the typical first signs of BA.2. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

BA.2 Symptoms Not That Different From Omicron, Delta

Sick woman laying in bed under wool blanket holding thermometer and tissue. Ill girl caught cold flu. Pills and tablets on table.
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Experts say BA.2 symptoms don't seem to be that different from Omicron or Delta. "This is the same virus, SARS Coronavirus 2, so we're seeing the same symptoms," Dr. Michael Angarone, an associate professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Northwestern University, told NBC 5 Chicago. According to the most recent data gathered by the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, the five most common symptoms are the same as Delta: Runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat. 

There's one crucial difference between BA.2 and original Omicron—BA.2 is about 50 to 60 percent more contagious, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert.

2

One Symptom Less Likely With BA.2

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19
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Those ZOE Covid researchers say that one symptom is much less likely now than earlier in the pandemic: Loss of smell. In research published in The Lancet last week, the scientists found that 52.7% of people infected with Delta lost their sense of smell, while only 16.7% of those with Omicron did.

3

Other Common COVID Symptoms

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The first symptom of BA.2 can vary. According to anecdotal reports, some people are experiencing more dizziness and fatigue than with previous variants. 

The CDC says these are the most common symptoms of COVID-19 overall:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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4

BA.2 More Contagious, Not More Severe

Woman with face mask sneezing into elbow while sitting in a cafe.
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The good news: While BA.2 is more contagious than previous variants, it doesn't seem to cause more severe effects or complications. "There is evidence that Omicron may cause less severe disease than the Delta variant," says Dr. Robert Bollinger of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Both Omicron and its subvariant BA.2 seem to primarily affect the upper airway, not the lungs (as earlier iterations of the virus did).

RELATED: Things That Put You at Risk for "Too High" Blood Sugar, Says Physician

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael