Masked people walk down Middle Street in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine health officials have identified a new “lineage” of the COVID-19 omicron variant called BA.2 in two instances.

Early data suggest the BA.2 variant is more contagious than the original omicron variant, identified as BA.1, according to Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Shah, the differences in transmissibility appear to be smaller than the difference between the original strain of omicron and delta. 

Early data suggest that BA.2 is more contagious than the original omicron variant, according to the Maine CDC.

Emerging data suggest that prior infection with omicron protects against reinfection from the newer variant BA.2, however, further study is needed.