In February, New York state health officials identified a small number of new COVID cases linked to a new, even more infectious subvariant of Omicron BA.2. Dubbed BA.2.12.1, it represented just 3% of all new cases in the state for that month. Figures released today by the CDC indicate that in the last eight weeks BA.2.12.1 has not only overtaken BA.2 in terms of growth, but has now become the dominant variant in the region comprised of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. CDC data indicates that BA.12.2 now accounts for 58% of new cases in the region. In New York state, their share is much higher.
As of April 20, the new Omicron subvariant was the cause of approximately 76% of new cases in central New York. By the end of the month, according to the state of New York, “April data indicates that levels in Central New York are now above 90%.”
The New York State Department of Public Health indicated last week that “BA.2.12.1 in April represented >50% of sequences in the Finger Lakes region, and >25% of sequences in the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions.” Represented. , based on visuals up to April 20, 2022.”
Cases and test positivity have also increased with the growth of BA.2.12.1. On March 13, New York reported 902 positive tests and a 7-day rolling positivity rate of 1.4%. Today, the state reported that the rate had risen to 6.8% and new cases to 4,786. Nationally, the variant also spread rapidly, though more slowly than in New York, where it was first identified.
Nationwide, BA.2.12.1 drove 28% of all new cases, according to CDC data released today. That’s an increase of 19% from the previous week, meaning the proportion of new cases of the variant in the US is up 47% in one week.
The biggest question about the increase in BA.2.12.1 is whether it will also lead to hospitalizations, which could increase the number of deaths. So far, Covid-related hospitalizations have increased in New York state, from 817 on March 29 to 1,588 today, but that’s a much smaller increase than the state saw in positive cases and tests. It’s also a far cry from the nearly 19,000 Covid-related hospitalizations seen at the peak of the spring 2020 surge.
There is hope that the new variant will be less virulent and that, along with higher vaccination and testing rates, will prevent the most terminal numbers from rising. With hospitalizations typically lagging behind infections by about 14 days, hospitalization data from New York next week could tell the story.
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