The CDC has stipulated that the new stealth variant is driving almost 84% of all rising cases in New York.
New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands along with the Empire State have seen 84% cases of the “stealth” omicron variant BA.2, which is up from 71% last week and 52% the week before that. It represents only positive COVID samples that are genetically sequenced to isolate variants, which means the actual prevalence is likely to be considerably higher, experts have said.
In New York City, 14% of all positive samples were genomically sequenced in the latest week of data, continuing an upward trend in that regard. In response, the state also intensely stepped up its variant surveillance efforts before the omicron wave started late last year. New York’s breakthrough case rates have seen an uptick in recent weeks, but it’s not clear what (or whats) is responsible.
BA.2 is said to be inherently more transmissible than the original omicron strain — perhaps the most contagious form of the virus to date, according to a WHO official — but has not been scientifically linked to more severe cases or proven to be more vaccine-resistant to this point, which is cause for caution but no alarm, experts say.
As of Tuesday’s update, BA.2 is 72.2% of all national positive COVID samples genomically sequenced in the latest two-week data period, up from 55% in the CDC’s prior weekly update and from 35% in the one before that.