The Hawaii Department of Health estimated the BA.2 omicron subvariant comprises 40% of new Covid infections across Hawaii, according to the state’s latest variant report published Tuesday.

The original omicron variant remains the dominant strain for now, accounting for the other 60% of the pathogen currently circulating across the state. However, the subvariant is set to overtake the BA.1 original omicron strain soon, having risen 27% over the past two weeks.

Abbott Covid-19 test negative.
Data from Europe suggests the subvariant is no more severe than the BA.1. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s daily Covid count has risen slightly in recent weeks, with the state logging a seven-day average of 129 cases Wednesday after hitting a post-omicron surge low of 89 cases March 18, according to the state’s newest numbers.

The DOH had sequenced samples from 236 confirmed BA.2 infections across the state as of Tuesday, with at least 99 cases on Oahu, 50 in Maui County, 18 on the Big Island, one case on Kauai, and the rest unclassified.

The rise of the omicron subvariant follows national trends that saw BA.2 become the dominant strain across the U.S., accounting for 55% of new cases across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Tuesday. In the CDC’s region 9, which includes Hawaii, California, Arizona, Nevada and much of the Pacific, the proportion of BA.2 infections rose to over 60%.

Scientists say mutations in BA.2’s genetic code have made it even more transmissible than the BA.1 strain, which was itself responsible for record-high case counts across America.

But data from Europe suggests the subvariant is no more severe than the BA.1, and both the Covid vaccine and earlier infection from the original omicron strain offer good protection against BA.2, the World Health Organization has said.

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