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Virus Mutations Are Not Slowing Down

Virus mutations are not slowing down.  The Omicron variant was first reported from South Africa late in 2021, and it spread quickly to the US, causing the biggest Covid-19 surge of the pandemic.  The virus then continued to mutate (BA.1 and BA.2)and Omicron subvariant BA.1 was quickly overtaken by Omicron subvariant BA.2.  Why do we worry about these subvariant mutations.  Every mutation can change the rate of virus transmission, the severity of Covid 19 infection, and/or escape from immune protection (immunity after an infection or immunity from vaccination).  Two more subvariants have also appeared in South Africa- BA.4 and BA.5.   In a recent report from South Africa antibodies from patients who had BA.1 infection demonstrated a substantial loss of immune protection against the BA.4/5 subvariants, more in unvaccinated, than in vaccinated/unboosted patients.     See Below for NY Info

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Cases in the US are slowly increasing (49% in the past 2 weeks), and this appears to be due to a mixture of Omicron subvariants.  NEW YORK CITY Covid-19 cases are also slowly increasing and in the last weekly report Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 now makes up 58.1% in US Region 2 - NY, NJ, Puerto Rico, and BVI.  BA.2.12 makes up 40.9%.   Hospitalization, but not deaths, are also increasing.  BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected here, but their case numbers are still low.  In summary the Omicron BA.2 variant mutates frequently, and spreads more easily.  So far severe disease and death both have not changed.  New York City is now in the yellow risk category (medium risk).  When you look at a Risk Map of the US, almost all of NY state is yellow which stands out on a US map that is almost all green (low risk).  This is a great time to decide what risks you are willing to take and adjust your mask wearing and activities accordingly.  

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