Covid-19 variants account for about 78% of recent Covid-19 cases in New York City, according to data published by the city’s health department on Monday.
Nearly 1,500 virus specimens were collected between March 22 and March 28 and genetically sequenced by the New York City Pandemic Response Laboratory. Of those specimens, about 30% were identified to be B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the U.K. Another 45% of the genetically sequenced samples were identified to be B.1.526, the variant first discovered in New York City.
B.1.1.7 is classified as a variant of concern by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as it has been found to be more transmissible and cause more severe infections. B.1.526 is a variant of interest, with ongoing studies regarding its effects on disease severity and vaccine effectiveness.
The prevalence of both of these variants has increased quickly in New York City. In the second half of February, B.1.1.7 accounted for about 10% of genetically sequenced specimens and B.1.526 accounted for about 35% of those sampled.
About 5% of confirmed cases have been genetically sequenced, and both B.1.1.7 and B.1.526 have been identified in all five of the city’s boroughs, according to the city’s health department.
“The proportion of variants of concern and variants of interest is increasing,” according to the report, suggesting that the “spread of specific variants, potentially due to their greater infectiousness, which is one reason why COVID-19 cases in NYC remain at a high plateau of between 3,000 to 4,000 new cases each day.”
Over the past seven days, New York City has reported more than 15,000 new cases of Covid-19, an improvement from the average of nearly 19,000 cases per week in recent weeks, according to data published by the city’s health department. However, New York City ranks 20th for the most new Covid-19 cases per capita among US metropolitan areas in the past week, according to data the data from the White House Covid-19 Team
Nationally, B.1.1.7 accounted for about 44% of samples collected between March 14 and March 27 and B.1.526 accounted for about 6% of samples, according to data published by the CDC.