New BA.2.12.1 Omicron Subvariant Is More Contagious, Fueling Covid-19 Upswing In New York State

Surprise, surprise, there are now new subvariants of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the Covid-19 coronavirus. And they’ve got the super easy-to-remember names BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1. These two sub-lineages of the BA.2 already constitute an estimated 80.6% of all Covid-19 infections in the state of New York. Ferris Bueller didn’t quite say “A new variant can move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” But when a new edition of the virus, BA.2.12.1, appears to be 23% to 27% more transmissible than the original BA.2 Omicron subvariant, it can go from being a new kid on the block to a being big time rush of the virus fairly quickly.

It can also lead to something that rhymes with “sup bling.” Indeed, Central New York has been experiencing an upswing in Covid-19 cases. In fact, in recent days, all counties in Central New York have been going in “one direction” with increases in both the total number of reported Covid-19 cases each day and the percentage of all tests coming back as positive for the SARS-CoV-2. It’s not clear whether these new subvariants are more likely to cause symptoms or more severe Covid-19 than BA.2. In other words, there hasn’t been enough time to determine what percentage of people infected will end up having temperatures much higher than 98 degrees or any other type of symptom.

In a press release from the New York State Department of Health, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett stated that “We are alerting the public to two Omicron subvariants, newly emerged and rapidly spreading in upstate New York, so New Yorkers can act swiftly.” Bassett seemed to want everyone to get “*NSYNC” when it comes to Covid-19 precautions. She recommended that New Yorkers “get fully vaccinated and boosted, test following exposure, symptoms, or travel, consider wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, and consult with your healthcare provider about treatment if you test positive.”

The word “consider” is certainly not as strong as “you should.” Saying “consider not having your dog drive your car” is not the same as saying “you should not have your dog drive your car.” So it’s not clear how many people will end up heeding Bassett’s recommendation. Over the past two months, many locations throughout the U.S. have lifted Covid-19 precautions like face mask requirements. The ongoing concern is that such relaxation of precautions would leave everyone more vulnerable to another Covid-19 surge and end up being yet another example of premature relaxation during the pandemic, as I’ve described for Forbes previously.

Now, a Covid-19 upswing won’t necessarily evolve into a surge. And even if another Covid-19 surge were to occur, chances are it won’t be as big a surge as the one that occurred in late 2021 through early 2022. The weather is getting warmer and more humid, which may help dampen transmission of the virus. Many more people have been either vaccinated or infected with the SARS-CoV-2 since November 2021. The more often your immune system sees that spike protein, the less likely you are to have more severe Covid-19.

Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to maintain several layers of precaution right now. If you want to go mask-less and not social distance in public indoors, tell me why. Putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk ain’t nothing but a mistake. real public health experts never wanna hear you say, I just want it that way.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.