New COVID-19 variants of concern found in Minnesota
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants present concerns because they caused outbreaks in a highly immunized population in South Africa
May 19, 2022
Minnesota has identified its first COVID-19 cases involving the BA.4 and BA.5 coronavirus subvariants that have shown the ability in other nations to spread even in highly immunized populations.
Genomic sequencing of a sampling of positive coronavirus infections found BA.4 in four cases and BA.5 in one case - with four involving residents outside the Twin Cities, according to the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health. Identified specimens involving a BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is causing high COVID-19 levels in the Northeast now, have increased over the past week from 47 to 131.
Whether these variants will accelerate COVID-19 cases in Minnesota is unclear. While earlier delta and omicron variants produced record infections this winter, a beta variant did not produce much viral spread locally last spring after it was identified in Brazil.