Scientists have discovered a new "stealth" version of the Omicron variant, which is undetectable using PCR tests. According to The Guardian, the stealthy new variant lacks a genetic change that PCR tests use to identify the presence of the virus.
The new version of Omicron was discovered in samples from South Africa, Australia, and Canada.
Professor Francois Balloux, director of the University College London Genetics Institute, told The Guardian that 6% of the Omicron genome samples submitted to the Gisaid genome database were the new stealth version of the variant, which is known as BA.2.
"There are two lineages within Omicron, BA.1 and BA.2, that are quite differentiated genetically," he said. "The two lineages may behave differently."
Scientists are worried that BA.2 could cause people to have a false sense of security while unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
Researchers are studying the new strain and are trying to understand how what caused it to mutate and how it mutated so quickly.
While the Omicron variant, which has over 50 mutations, is considered a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that preliminary data suggests that it may not be as severe as initially thought. There are concerns the mutations could allow it to evade immune protection, but Pfizer and Moderna are both working to adapt their vaccines if necessary.