The latest COVID-19 variant – dubbed BA.2.12.1 – has been linked to 43% of total coronavirus cases in the U.S., a jump from 7% in April.

And, as more data about the variant becomes known, a pattern in early symptoms is emerging. BA.2.12.1 is a descendant of the BA.2 virus, a subvariant of the omicron strain of COVID. It has the ability transmit easier than its predecessors and expect it to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 within a few weeks.

Like previous COVID omicron strains, BA.2.12.1 often presents with upper respiratory symptoms that can appear like the flu. Experts said BA.2.12.1 is triggering mild breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals with people feeling like they are suffering from a cold or seasonal allergies.

These early symptoms include scratchy or sore throat, sneezing or runny nose.

These symptoms can remain mild or expand to include more traditional COVID symptoms, including:

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


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Because the symptoms of BA.2.12.1 can be similar to seasonal allergies, people could be reluctant to test, allowing the highly contagious virus to spread quickly. Experts said BA.2.12.1 is about 25% more transmissible than the original Omicron that caused a sharp rise in cases in winter 2021.

The severity of COVID symptoms can be impacted by a person’s vaccination status, according to the Centers for Disease Control. You can see more on vaccinations here.

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