Overlapping, highly contagious COVID subvariants spreading fast in Florida

The more transmissible BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant became officially dominant in the U.S. last week, yet it already is being pushed out nationally by newcomers BA.4 and BA.5, both of which have arrived in Florida.

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While BA.2.12.1 has gained an advantage by being more contagious than the omicron subvariant BA.2 before it, the newcomers (4 and 5) are particularly good at evading antibodies and infecting those who are vaccinated or previously infected.

Some epidemiologists are describing what’s happening as the “battle of omicron.”

Helix, a private lab that identifies COVID strains circulating in states, found BA.4 and BA.5 crept into Florida in May, and represent about 5% of samples. The majority of cases in Florida — about 58% — are still BA.2.12.1.

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