The proportion of BA.2.12.1, a descendant of the BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus, has increased in the state, according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s latest variant report.
In the report, published Wednesday, whole genome sequencing of positive test specimens found that BA.2.12.1 — a new omicron mutant that drove case counts up in New York — now makes up at least 15% of variants circulating in Hawaii.
DOH’s Laboratories Division confirmed 110 cases of BA.2.12.1 in specimens collected from the state between March 21 and April 25.
The presence of omicron variants BA.2.12.1 as well as BA.2.12 were first confirmed to be present in Hawaii in the last variant report in late April.
The number of confirmed cases of omicron variant XE — which contains genetic material from variants BA.1 and BA.2 — has grown from just one to seven, according to the report. The first case of XE was detected in Hawaii in mid-April.
Omicron has for several months accounted for 100% of all variants circulating in the state.
The majority of BA.2.12.1 cases have been detected in Honolulu County, but the omicron subvariant has also been detected in Kauai County, Maui County, and Hawaii County.
In comparison to BA.2, according to DOH, BA.2.12.1 contains two additional amino acid mutations in its spike protein, and is estimated to be about 1.3 times more transmissible than BA.2.
Nationally, the presence of the BA.2.12.1 subvariant has been rising for past few weeks, and is beginning to edge out the predominant BA.2. As of Saturday, data from CDC showed it made up about 43% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
DOH conducts genome sequencing on a fraction of positive test specimens collected statewide every week, and publishes a variant report every two weeks.