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The omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 is quickly on its way to becoming the dominant strain of the coronavirus circulating in Minnesota, according to wastewater data

A little over a month ago, BA.2.12.1 represent 10% of wastewater samples at the Metropolitan Council treatment plant in St. Paul, which serves the majority of the 7-county Twin Cities metro area. 

But as of May 9, BA.2.12.1 has been documented in 43% of samples, having more than tripled since late April (April 26 it was 14%). 

The yellow line represents BA.2.12.1. 

The yellow line represents BA.2.12.1. 

BA.2 had overtaken the original omicron variant (BA.1) as the dominant strain in Minneaota, but has dropped from more than 90% of all samples on in early April to 49% as of May 9. It appears that each sub-variant is more contagious, though not necessarily more severe. 

"Nationally, surveillance reporting indicates that BA.2.12.1 does not seem to cause more severe disease than Omicron," a Minnesota Department of Health spokesperson told Bring Me The News in early May. "However, we will need to see additional data before we can definitively say."

The CDC estimates BA.2.12.1 to be about 25% more transmissible than BA.2. 

The trend in Minnesota mirrors what the CDC is seeing nationally, with BA.2.12.1 accounting for 42.6% of specimens in the U.S. as of the Week ending May 7. 

Overall, the amount of COVID detected in metro wastewater is nowhere near what it was during the height of last winter's peak, though it has risen higher than it was for the bulk of 2021 until the winter surge. 

The blue line and points show the total amount of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in wastewater flowing into the Metro Plant, in millions copies of the SARS-CoV-2 genome per person served by the wastewater area, per day. Blue points are daily values; the blue line is a running average of the previous 7 days.

The blue line and points show the total amount of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in wastewater flowing into the Metro Plant, in millions copies of the SARS-CoV-2 genome per person served by the wastewater area, per day. Blue points are daily values; the blue line is a running average of the previous 7 days.

But the increase in wastewater detection matches what's being seen on the ground, as there has been a significant rise in the number of people testing positive amid the BA.2.12.1 surge.

According to the New York Times, Minnesota is averaging 2,157 new cases per day over the past week, having been below an average 1,000 per day (frequently below 500 per day) for almost all of March and April. Cases have jumped 74% from the average just two weeks ago, per New York Times data. 

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