BA.2: The Phantom Menace?
The "More Transmissible" Variant Isn't Transmitting
If you want to derail a narrative thread, check the data.
If CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says BA.2 is on the rise in your area, check your state or local COVID-19 dashboard.
According to Ms. Walensky, the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is becoming more prevalent in the northeastern United States, and she hints at a fresh “wave" of infections.
"We have started to see an uptick in some cases in some areas, as well as an uptick in some of our wastewater surveillance. So these are areas that we're watching very, very carefully. We've seen some very small increases in hospitalizations in some areas, but not in severe disease, not in ICU stays," said Walensky.
"We've seen about 35% of BA.2 across the country. But in the Northeast region, we've seen it at about 50%. It is one of the reasons we're watching so carefully," she continued.
She says while BA-2 is more transmissible, the disease itself doesn't appear to be more severe or vaccine-resistant than the original omicron strain.
However, here's what the New York State dashboard shows for COVID-19 case counts and trends:
Here's New Jersey:
Given that BA.2 has been documented in this country since mid-December of last year, the state level data leaves us with a question: If BA.2 is more transmissible, why isn't it transmitting?