According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new subvariant of omicron is close to becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States.
The BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which scientists say could be up to 50% more transmissible than previous strains of omicron, now makes up an estimated 47.5% of cases in the United States, up from 38.8% a week ago.
At that pace, it would overtake the BA.2 omicron subvariant and become the dominant strain in the United States by next week.
That news comes as cases of COVID-19 once again rise in different parts of the United States, including in Illinois. According to the state’s Department of Public Health, Illinois saw its average daily number of new COVID cases rise above 6,000 for the first time in more than three months on Monday.
The state is also seeing increases in hospitalizations, with new admissions up nearly 18% over the last week.
Part of the reason for that surge has been the proliferation of the new BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is causing an estimated 45% of new cases in the Midwest as of Tuesday, according to the CDC. The BA.2 subvariant is still the dominant strain at 54.7%, but the region could potentially see a new dominant strain of the virus within the next one-to-two weeks.
According to Yale researchers, the original omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus caused less-severe illness and fewer fatalities than the delta variant, but it spread much-more rapidly, leading to unprecedented levels of infections and cases.
The BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant seems to be following that pattern, with epidemiologists saying that it is likely 50% more transmissible than previous subvariants.
Overall COVID cases in the United States have been on a slow upward trend since early April, with the country now averaging just over 94,000 new cases of COVID per day, according to CDC data.