Omicron subvariants BA.4, BA5 make up 18% of variants in Hawaii


    A medic secures a PCR test swab at the city’s COVID-19 testing site at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

  • COURTESY OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OF HAWAII Coronavirus variant chart for the state of Hawaii.


    Coronavirus variant chart for the state of Hawaii.

Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 together now account for 18% of the COVID-19 variants circulating in Hawaii, according to the State Department of Health’s most recent variant report.

The report, released late Wednesday, found through genome sequencing that subvariant BA.4 and its sublineages made up 6% of test samples collected between June 5 and June 18 in Hawaii. BA.5 and its sublines made up 13% of these samples.

For BA.4, this represents a more than three-fold increase over the previous two-week period, and for BA.5, this represents a more than four-fold increase over the previous two-week period, the report said.

The Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1, meanwhile, accounted for 58% of the variants circulating in the state, while BA.2 accounted for the remaining 23%.

The three subvariants – BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 – are believed to have an increased ability to evade therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and antibodies elicited by vaccination or previous infection compared to BA.2.

All Omicron subvariants are considered variants of concern.

Epidemiologists are most concerned about BA.5, thought to be the most transmissible to date, with an extensive ability to evade immunity, and currently the dominant lineage among new cases in the US

The State Laboratories Division of the Hawaii Department of Health has detected 43 cases of BA.4 and BA.4.1 and 84 cases of BA.5 and its sublines in the state in samples collected in May and June.

Both BA.4 and BA.5 now have a presence in all four major counties of Hawaii.

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