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Slight increase in BA.2 subvariant in LA County


As multiple COVID metrics continue to decline, the state is lifting the requirements for vaccine and test verification at indoor mega events starting April 1.

County health officials have been encouraged with the progress made, as the BA.2 subvariant gradually increases in LA County. Layering in safety measures remains important for protecting residents and workers at elevated risk of severe illness.

For the latest measurement period, the week ending Feb. 26, 6.4 percent of all sequenced specimens in LA County were identified as the BA.2 subvariant, an increase from the week prior when 4.5 percent  of specimens were identified as BA.2.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.2 subvariant now accounts for 23 percent of all sequenced specimens nationally, with the Northeast region seeing higher percentages than other regions. For example, New York City reported that the Omicron subvariant BA.2 accounts for nearly 30 percent of cases. The BA.2 subvariant also accounts for over 20 percent of the cases in the Midwest, with 20 percent identified as BA.2 in Chicago.

Although LA County has identified a lower percentage of cases to date associated with BA.2 when compared to some other cities, this is a similar pattern as seen with previous new virus strains and residents should be prepared to mitigate the risk of increased transmission associated with this more infectious subvariant.

Efforts to slow transmission remain a priority, particularly by increasing vaccination and booster coverage, as data has shown that these approved vaccines provide significant protection against variants.

As of March 17, 83 percent of LA County residents ages five and older had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 75 percent were fully vaccinated. Additionally, 57 percent of eligible residents ages 12 and older received the additional protection of a booster.  This leaves about 2.6 million booster-dose eligible residents not benefiting from the extra protection of a booster dose.

With gaps in coverage by race/ethnicity, age groups, and geography, there are many pockets of vulnerability across the county. Only 30 percent of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated, the lowest of any age group, compared with 8 percent of fully vaccinated youth ages 12-17.

As of March 13, 55 percent of Black residents and 59 percent of Latinx residents are fully vaccinated, compared with 73 percent of White residents and 82 percent of Asian residents.

There are also certain geographic regions with lower vaccination coverage than others, including parts of the San Gabriel Valley, South Central LA, and the Antelope Valley.