Skip to main content

The COVID saga may be writing its next chapter as two of the newer members of the omicron family may already be in Minnesota. 

Known as BA.4 and BA.5, the omicron subvariants are quickly evolving into the dominant forms of omicron in South Africa and Portugal, prompting the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to become the first public health agency to identify BA.4 and BA.5 as variants of concern

A spokesperson from the Minnesota Department of Health told Bring Me The News that genomic sequencing has not produced confirmed samples of BA.4 or BA.5 in Minnesota, but "there has been evidence of BA.4/BA.5 in Met Council wastewater samples."

The Met Council's wastewater project found the presence of BA.4 and perhaps BA.5 in its April 29 sample collection, and on May 13 said: "We think they’re there, but at concentrations too low to measure accurately."

BA.4 and BA.5 are believed to be more contagious, which has been a common theme among omicron mutations that seemingly are getting better at evading natural and vaccine immunity.  

"The currently observed growth advantage for BA.4 and BA.5 is likely due to their ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time," the European CDC warned. 

Disease severity doesn't appear to be any worse with BA.4 and BA.5, according to experts, and vaccines remain effective at significantly reducing the chances of serious illness from them. But as the European CDC notes, their ability to maneuver successfully into the body and cause infection, coupled with extreme transmissibility, could send more countries sliding to "some level of increased hospital and ICU admissions."

Minnesota is currently experiencing increasing cases, which are attributable to the other omicron subvariants, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1. What's unclear is if BA.4 and BA.5 can evade immunity from people recently infected with BA.2 or BA.2.12.1. 

Related: BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant becoming dominant in MN wastewater

Next Up

SherburneCoJailDrugArrests

Duo charged after 10-pound meth package sent to wrong address

More than 10 pounds of meth are off the street thanks to a delivery error.

Screen Shot 2022-07-01 at 11.01.32 AM

Bird Rides' suburban expansion continues in Minnesota

Its scooter season in Minnesota. The latest on where you can find Bird e-scooters:

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man found dead with 'trauma to his face' in St. Paul

A man was found dead with "trauma to his face" in St. Paul after 3 a.m.

Hibbing ambulance

Boyfriend jailed after woman found dead in Hibbing

The woman was found dead on Tuesday, June 28.

ambulance

2 motorcyclists killed in crash near Duluth

The crash happened at a curve in the road north of Duluth.

Life Link

18 injured in two separate crashes involving teen drivers

The crashes happened Thursday in Ham Lake and North Branch Township.

ambulance

Motorcyclist killed on I-494 crash in Richfield

The Minnesota State Patrol has identified the victim as a 42-year-old Shakopee man.

013_kitchen

Gallery: This Seward Neighborhood gem SOLD fast!

Classic 1903 home came with modern updates

hopkins high school

‘Terrible prank’ during tornado drill causes scare at Hopkins High School

The school principal said the incident brought armed police to the school and "understandably caused some scholars anxiety."

MNBCA - Balsimo 1

Woman admits to role in St. Paul man's gruesome murder

A 32-year-old Duluth woman has taken a plea deal in the case of a 34-year-old St. Paul man's murder.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 11.18.35 AM

'Living nightmare’ alleged at Savage, Minn. rabbit sanctuary

"Peacebunny Cottage" is now the subject of an animal cruelty investigation.

Related

covid

'Hyper-contagious' BA.4, BA.5 COVID variants confirmed in MN

Omicron continues to evolve into a more transmissible virus.

wastewater

BA.4, BA.5 expected to become dominant in Minnesota

"Those are hyper-contagious," said Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group.

covid

BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant quickly becoming dominant in MN

Experts say the subvariant is more transmissible but there is not evidence to suggest it causes more severe disease.

covid, kids

New data shows how omicron has impacted kids in Minnesota

The new data shows breakthrough data during the omicron period, which began Dec. 19, 2021.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, June 6

BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron BA.2 are becoming dominant.

covid

Omicron is now the dominant coronavirus strain in Minnesota

The state is preparing for a rise in cases in the coming weeks.

Walz

Walz, Osterholm paint ominous omicron picture for Minnesota

A significant surge is forthcoming, according to Walz and Osterholm.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, June 21

The subvariant BA.5 is expected to replace BA.2.12.1 as the dominant strain in the coming weeks.