New Omicron variant found in Dane County

MADISON, Wis. — Local health department representatives say a new Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Dane County, although officials say it is too early to say what effect the new variant may have on case numbers.

Representatives from Public Health Madison & Dane County confirmed to News 3 Now that the single case of Omicron BA.2 that has been discovered in Wisconsin so far was found in Dane County. The discovery comes nearly two years to the day of Dane County having Wisconsin’s first confirmed case of the original strain of COVID-19.

The new Omicron strain has been found to be about 50% more infectious than the previous strain, according to data from overseas, but some experts say those who were exposed to the “first” strain of Omicron may have immunity from the new strain. Booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine may also provide strong protection against the new strain.

Early studies have also shown the new variant does not cause more severe symptoms than the first strain of Omicron, meaning it is unlikely to cause another surge in cases — although it could slow down the decrease in total case numbers we have seen in recent weeks.

The new BA.2 strain has been found in at least 40 countries so far.

The news of the new variant comes as Wisconsin reported its lowest single-day case count of the new year.