The COVID-19 subtype estimated by New York state health officials to be much more contagious than the first offspring of the powerful omicron strain now accounts for up to 73.3% of the total virus circulating in the Empire State area. , according to the new CDC data released on Tuesday.
Prevalence of BA.2.12.1, which health officials say appears to be at least 25% more contagious than BA.2 (said to be 30% more contagious than its predecessor, omicron), in the region New York’s body is growing at a much faster rate than nationally, shows the latest weekly update.
The CDC places it at 66.3% (at least) of COVID cases in the New York area, which also includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, although it says the share of cases of BA.2.12.1 could be higher. Either way, this sub-variable is the dominant strain locally, while the first omicron variant, BA.2., Has maintained its national dominance in recent weeks (56.4% of cases versus 42.6% for BA. 2.12.1).
Given the latest trends, however, BA.2.12.1 will have to confirm its dominance in the United States before the end of this month.
Although no scientific evidence to date has linked BA.2.12.1 to a more serious COVID-associated disease or reduced vaccine efficacy at this point, the increased transmissibility seems clear. In New York State, for example, nearly half of the 79 U.S. counties listed by the CDC as having a high COVID risk to the community.
None of the U.S. high-risk counties, according to the CDC, are located in New York City, but the five municipalities appear to be experiencing some sort of decline. All municipalities except the Bronx, which has the second lowest rate of full vaccination out of five, are now considered moderate COVID alert areas by the CDC.
The New York Department of Health’s variant monitoring program does not explicitly analyze sub-variant BA.2.12.1, but indicates that sub-variants associated with BA.2 represent the vast majority of cases in the last month or so. And the positive rates for COVID in the city are increasing according to the increased transmission, the data show.
Many more BA.2.12.1 infections may not be reported. The share of genetically determined COVID samples for the isolation of variants is a fraction of the total confirmed cases. The city has completed this grueling project for just 4% of its cases in the last data week and the state has cumulatively fewer (3.65%, per CDC).
In the central New York area, which experienced the highest case rates in the state since March, BA.2.12.1 was first detected in February and increased to 77% of sequences by April. The sub-variant also accounted for more than half of the sequences in the Finger Lakes area and more than 25% of the samples sequenced in the Capital, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier areas of the state by April 20.
All five of these areas have higher-than-average re-infection rates per 100,000 inhabitants, with the Mohawk Valley having the highest of them (7.1). New York’s re-infection rate remains below the state average (3.5 vs. 4.6 re-infections per 100,000 residents), but both numbers have risen recently.
New York’s re-infection data does not affect vaccination, but its pioneering case and hospital control panel – and the story is similar there.
The rate of new discoveries per 100,000 inhabitants is increasing every week since March 7, according to state data. Weekly increases appear to have intensified in late March, from 13 new unprecedented infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the week of March 21 to 34.2 in the week of April 25, the latest data available.
A glance at the CDC COVID community level map shows the obvious impact.
The rolling rate of hospitalization in New York has also increased for fully vaccinated individuals, but to a much lesser extent. Hospitalizations are a factor of delay, so the jump was not made until mid-April. The rolling revolutionary hospitalization rate almost tripled from the week of April 11 (0.54) to the week of April 18 (1.48), yet again, many factors could play a role. Government officials have not speculated about the cause recently.
While much remains unknown, scientifically, about BA.2.12.1 at this point, health professionals and experts are paying close attention to the numbers.
New York raised the alert level for COVID to mid-level last week as cases exceeded 200 per 100,000 people in the five boroughs. It was the first time the health department had adjusted to that level since it debuted the new system under Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year.
No new COVID protocol will be implemented in the city at this time, but if the hospitalization rate exceeds the CDC’s highest risk limit of 10 per 100,000 and the rate of 200 per 100,000 cases, indoor mask orders could return throughout the city.
Experts hope – and believe – that it will not be necessary.
While the incidence of new cases is rising, they remain much lower than they were during the Omicron peak in January. Most importantly, hospitalizations and deaths, the much more important measurements in terms of public health, remain in decline.
In New York City, rolling COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last seven days increased by 7.5% compared to the average of the previous four weeks, which according to the city are stable. The mortality rate continues to decline. Across the country, 2,369 people have been treated for COVID since Tuesday, more than doubling in just the last month. That total, however, is less than a fifth of hospitalizations during the January outbreak.
And it is eight times lower than the record of 18,697 New Yorkers who were hospitalized with the virus in April 2020.
That is why officials urge continued attention on the COVID protocol, but do not panic.
“We have come a long way in the last two years, so let us continue to use the tools we know will help protect, treat and prevent serious diseases from COVID-19,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. to recover from last week’s diagnosis. “I know first hand how tests can help stop the spread of our vulnerable loved ones, so let’s continue to use this crucial tool. I also encourage every New Yorker to make sure they are fully vaccinated and informed about booster doses. “And if you test positive, talk to your doctor about the treatments available. That way we can continue to move safely into the pandemic.”