Omicron subvariant BA.5 now makes up at least 68%, or the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the state, according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s latest variant report.
The report, published late Wednesday, found BA.5 made up 68% of variants circulating in the state, while BA.4 made up 9% — or 77% together — for the two-week period ending July 16.
Omicron subvariant, BA.2.12.1, meanwhile, is receding and made up 18% of new coronavirus cases in the state compared to 42% reported on July 20.
DOH’s State Laboratories Division has also detected the presence of BA.4.6, a sublineage that has a relative growth advantage of about 44% over BA.4, the report said. It has been detected in Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii counties.
The lab found six cases of BA.4.6 in Maui County from samples collected between June 29 and July 17.
While all of the omicron subvariants are considered variants of concern, both BA.4 and BA.5 have an increased ability to evade antibodies elicited by vaccination or prior infection, compared with BA.2, due to mutations in the spike protein.
BA.5, however, appears to have a significant growth advantage over BA.4 despite sharing identical mutations in the spike protein.
Nationally, BA.5 as of July 30 made up 85.5% of new COVID cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while BA.4 made up 7.7%, and BA.4.6 made up 4.1%.
Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 director, tweeted on Tuesday — while sharing updated variant proportions — that BA.4.6 is now listed separately, and has been circulating for several weeks.
DOH’s State Laboratories Division publishes the variant report once every two weeks, with results from the whole genome sequencing of positive COVID test results collected statewide.