Skip to main content

A coronavirus subvariant experts believe is more contagious than the currently-dominant BA.2 strain has been detected in Minnesota. 

The latest weekly data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows BA.2.12.1 – the latest omicron variant taking hold across the country — accounted for nearly 37% of new cases nationwide last week. 

So far, fewer than 20 cases of the BA.2.12.1 have been confirmed in Minnesota, a spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Health told Bring Me The News on Tuesday.

"Nationally, surveillance reporting indicates that BA.2.12.1 does not seem to cause more severe disease than Omicron," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "However, we will need to see additional data before we can definitively say."

BA.2.12.1 is expected to soon outpace BA.2 across the country — it's already the dominate strain in some east coast states, including New York. 

The CDC believes BA.2.12.1 is about 25% more transmissible than BA.2. 

“We have a very, very contagious variant out there. It is going to be hard to ensure that no one gets COVID in America. That’s not even a policy goal," said Ashish Jha, the COVID-19 coordinator under President Biden, at a news conference Tuesday. 

Still, experts believe people can protect themselves from severe illness by staying up to date with vaccine shots and booster doses. 

“Additional evaluation is currently underway to understand the impact of BA.2.12.1 on vaccine effectiveness,” CDC Diretor Rochelle Walensky said last week. “But importantly, we continue to believe that those who are vaccinated and especially those who are boosted, continue to have strong protection against severe disease, even from BA.2.12.1.”

In an interview with CNN, Jha stated that "the key is to make sure that hospitalizations and deaths are not rising substantially," noting that he's confident America will get through this subvariant "without disruption."

During the wave that featured the delta and omicron BA.1 variants from August through February, Minnesota's hospitalizations peaked at 374 ICU patients and 1,382 non-ICU patients with COVID. Currently, there are 22 COVID patients in intensive care and 264 people with COVID admitted to general hospital rooms around the state. 

But case levels are rising in Minnesota (more than 2,500 new cases were reported statewide on Wednesday). What remains to be seen is if case levels will spike even faster if BA.2.12.1 takes over in Minnesota. 

Next Up

Train Days

Historic locomotives to roll into St. Paul for Train Days

The festival at the Union Depot returns June 4-5.

Dalton tornado

Tornadoes, large hail, damaging wind possible in Sunday/Monday storms

The Twin Cities is among the areas that could get hit.

Redtail Ridge Elementary

Sunbather on the roof triggers shelter-in-place at Savage elementary school

The sunbather told police he was trying to "tan and relax."

Nero

The Raptor Center's ambassador, Nero the turkey vulture, dies at 47

Nero helped save the California condors before taking up his post as an education ambassador.

Ben Leber

Ben Leber named new permanent co-host of 'Twin Cities Live'

The former Minnesota Vikings linebacker was introduced Friday afternoon.

MPR

APM Reports, maker of 'In the Dark' podcast, nixed by Minnesota Public Radio

MPR said "select programming elements" of APM Reports will be incorporated into MPR News.

storm, severe

The latest on holiday weekend severe weather chances for MN

The most significant severe threats are Sunday night and again on Monday.

Arianna Vos

Charges: Driver was drunk, high in head-on crash that killed 19-year-old woman

The young woman killed in the crash was a college student studying zoology.

Related

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.

wastewater

Evidence that omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 are in Minnesota

The European CDC has warned of a possible significant summer surge fueled by the omicron subvariants.

flickr covid healt care worker coronavirus

Omicron at least 50 percent of new COVID cases in MN

The variant has spread quickly since first being confirmed in the state on Dec. 2.

covid

Minnesota health officials watching closely for omicron variant

Health leaders do not yet know how transmissible or severe the new variant is.

covid

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

Omicron continues to evolve into a more transmissible virus.

covid

First omicron variant COVID case detected in MN

The individual is an adult male who lives in Hennepin County and had recently traveled.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, May 18

More than 2,000 new cases in today's report.

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.