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Cases of new COVID variant could rise in the next 2 weeks, say Mayo doctors

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Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, new versions of the virus keep spreading.

The dominant variant in the world right now is called BA-2. It’s transmitted more rapidly than previous forms of COVID.

Dr. Matt Binnicker, from the virology lab at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said during a news briefing Thursday the effect of BA-2 might not be as bad as the earlier strains.

“We will see increasing cases in many parts of the United States, but it’s not thought to result in a large surge like we experienced in January and early February,” Binnecker said.

He predicted that if there’s going to be a BA-2 surge, it will happen in the next two weeks.

Mayo physicians say the best protection against COVID continues to be getting vaccinated, rather than relying on natural immunity.

Mayo infectious disease specialist Dr. Jack O’Horo added that the spread of BA-2 shows that the pandemic isn’t behind us yet.

“Even though we’ve talked a lot about how we’re heading towards an endemic and sort of a more stable and community-based phase, there still is at least one foreseeable large bump on the horizon,” O’Horo said, adding booster shots are safe, but he also urges people who haven’t gotten the vaccine yet to do so.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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