New variant that fueled rise in NY COVID cases now dominates USck and now dominates US strain, says CDC – NBC New York

The COVID-19 subvariant, considered by health officials to be significantly more contagious than the first descendant of the potent Omicron strain, is now the dominant strain in the United States, according to the CDC’s latest weekly update.

This subvariant, BA.2.12.1, has been increasing in prevalence in the New York area at a much faster rate than nationwide for weeks. It became the dominant strain locally in late April, accounting for nearly 70% of regional cases by the first week of May.

According to the CDC’s latest update, BA.2.12.1 accounts for up to 83.2% of all COVID-19 circulating in the region that includes the Empire State. The subvariant is believed to be at least 25% more transmissible than BA.2, which is said to be 30% more contagious than its predecessor, Omicron, although it has not been shown to be more lethal.

The CDC puts the prevalence of BA.2.12.1 in the New York area, which for its purposes also includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands, at approximately 77.8% (with a range of 71.3% to 83 .2%) of COVID cases . Nationally, the prevalence of this strain is estimated at up to 63%, but at least 59% of US COVID cases have been sequenced to isolate variants. The CDC acknowledges that their proportion of cases is likely higher.


The CDC updates its variant data weekly on Tuesdays.

Tuesday’s federal update marks the first time that BA.2.12.1 has accounted for the majority of cases statewide, despite weeks of anticipation of the transition.

And it comes as more and more of America gets sucked back into the throes of COVID.

Nearly 300 U.S. counties, about 9% of all, are now considered high risk for spreading the COVID community by the CDC. The number has more than quintupled since the first week of May, when just 56 met the CDC standard.

New York state accounts for 18% of those 297 currently high-risk counties, with 54 of its own—or 87% of the total—falling into the same threat category.

Also included: All five New York City boroughs where health officials raised COVID alert levels to high last week. The city’s warning system follows the same parameters that the CDC outlines in its community-based guidance. And an updated mask recommendation — but not a new mandate — for everyone to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status, accompanied the city’s announcement.

The NYC Department of Health and Human Services variant tracker does not explicitly break out subvariant BA.2.12.1, but indicates that BA.2-linked strains account for 99% of cases. The city sequenced about 10% of its positive COVID samples to isolate variants in the most recent week of data, up from an average of about 15% since mid-March.

Neither the state nor the federal government release weekly genetic sequencing data, but the proportion of cases undergoing this comprehensive process was a fraction of the total confirmed since the pandemic began.

According to the CDC, as of March 2020, New York State has sequenced approximately 3.62% of all of its reported positive results. That proportion is higher than other high-COVID-volume states like neighboring New Jersey (2.86%) and Florida (2.57%), but lower than those like California (5.96%), the latest data shows show the agency.

Nationwide, only about 0.4% of the more than 83 million confirmed cases have undergone the same testing.

To date, there is no scientific evidence linking BA.2.12.1 to more severe COVID-related illness or reduced vaccine effectiveness at this time, and while the increased transmissibility seems clear, experts and medical researchers believe that preventive efforts, particularly related to vaccinations, cases that do not require treatment should be overwhelmingly mild.

While hospitalization rates have risen, they remain manageable in New York City and the state, remaining at a fraction of the total recorded by the Empire State when it first peaked in April 2020 and more recently with Omicron in January. For this reason, a new sharp rise is not expected in the first place, even amid the surge in cases.

Finally, experts and elected leaders are urging the public to reinvest in key COVID prevention strategies such as hand washing, mask wearing, staying home when sick, and immunization and booster shots to stem this latest viral tide.

Gov. Kathy Hochul tried to underscore the point in her latest COVID update.

“As we continue to monitor the numbers, I encourage all New Yorkers to continue using the tools at our disposal to protect against and treat COVID-19,” the Democrat said. “The best way to avoid serious illness from COVID-19 is to keep up to date with your vaccinations and booster doses.”

“Be sure to get tested to make sure you’re not passing the virus on to loved ones,” Hochul added. “If you test positive, talk to your doctor about treatment. The worst we could allow is to lose our vigilance, so remain vigilant so we can get through this pandemic safely.”

Leave a Comment