MPA | Pharmacy News

Highly contagious subvariants of the Omicron strain of coronavirus have arrived in central New York, putting the state and the rest of the country on alert for a potential setback in the COVID-19 pandemic. The new versions, BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, reportedly are spreading as much as 27% faster than the original Omicron variant. While the subvariants do not appear to be linked to worse disease severity, health officials in New York say they are contributing to the growing number of cases.

According to the surveillance, the subvariants drove more than 70% of infections in the central New York region in March, increasing to 90% this month. Meanwhile, another Omicron subvariant dubbed XE has surfaced in Hawaii after first being observed in the United Kingdom. CDC representatives say the agency intends to track subvariants as they emerge, noting how they affect the rates of infection, hospitalization, and death.

"While the prevalence of lineages and sub-lineages may fluctuate, what we are focused on is monitoring for any changes in disease burden caused by Omicron lineages," said CDC spokesman Nicholas Spinelli. 

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