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

The omicron lineage of COVID-19 has been dominant in Minnesota since before Christmas 2021, but another group of subvariants are expected to replace the current dominant strain soon.

According to the latest sewage data from the Metropolitan Council, the most prevalent strain of coronavirus in samples tested from May 24-30 was the omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant at 64%, up from 57% the previous week.

Meanwhile, the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have more than doubled from 11% of samples taken May 17-23 to 23% in the last reporting period, and this is expected to continue to rise. climb in the coming weeks.

“BA.4 and BA.5 are expected to replace BA.2.12.1 as the dominant Metro Plant sewage variants in the coming weeks,” the Met Council announced on Friday.

The CDC has not expressed concern that BA.4 and BA.5 cause more severe disease than previous omicron types, despite being extremely transmissible.

“These are hyper-contagious,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group, in a podcast recorded May 13. Both members of the omicron family (BA.4 and BA.5) are known, as are the other omicron subvariants. , to escape the vaccine and natural immunity.

“The BA.4 and BA.5 evade – not entirely, but very effectively – this immunity,” Poland said, adding that he believed people not wearing masks and not keeping up to date with injections of recall were the primary causes of omicron’s continued evolution.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 43.9% of Minnesota’s population ages 5 and older are up to date with vaccine doses. But this percentage is skewed because 84% of the population aged 65 and over is up to date, while this percentage decreases with age.

  • 5-11 years: 15% are up to date
  • 12-15 years old: 24% are up to date
  • 16-17 years old: 31% are up to date
  • 18-49 years old: 39% are up to date
  • 50-64 years old: 57% are up to date
  • 65 years and over: 84% are up to date

You can find out when you are eligible for a third or fourth dose of vaccine here.

Overall, the amount of virus detected in wastewater is lower now than it was in mid-May, and far from record levels during the first omicron wave (BA.1) in December and January.

The Met Council serves approximately 2 million people in the Twin Cities metro.