A new subvariant of omicron is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to that data, the BA.2.12.1 subvariant, one of several variants of omicron that are driving an increase in COVID infections in the United States in recent weeks, is now responsible for nearly 58% of new cases over the last week.
The BA.2 subvariant, which had been the dominant strain in the United States for nearly two months, now makes up 39% of cases, according to CDC estimates.
According to officials, the BA.2.12.1 subvariant is a sublineage of omicron, and has been circulating in the United States for several months.
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Studies have shown that the subvariant causes similar symptoms to that of the original omicron variant, but it could potentially spread even faster, up to 25% more quickly in fact than the BA.2 subvariant.
Even still, the subvariant is not causing more severe illness according to preliminary studies, but is causing more infections because of its increased transmissibility.
In the Midwest, the BA.2.12.1 subvariant has also become the dominant strain of the virus, making up 54% of cases according to the CDC’s latest estimates.
That subvariant has helped to fuel a recent spike in cases in the state of Illinois, with seven counties now at a “high community level” of the virus according to CDC data.
Even still, cases have begun to decline in recent days, dropping by 17% to an average of 5,204 new cases per day according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Hospitalizations are continuing to rise however, going up nearly 11% to 1,199 as of Tuesday.