C.D.C. Airport Surveillance Discovered the First Identified U.S. Case of BA.2

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Eligible vacationers may volunteer to offer a self-collected nasal swab on the airport. Swabs from 5 to 25 vacationers — from the identical flight or nation — have been added to a single tube after which examined for the virus utilizing P.C.R. testing. Optimistic samples have been then sequenced to find out which model of the virus was current.

Between Sept. 29 and Jan. 23, 10 % of 161,000 eligible vacationers enrolled within the examine, and 1,454 pattern swimming pools have been examined for the virus. Regardless of the preflight testing requirement, greater than 15 % of the swimming pools have been optimistic.

This comparatively excessive positivity charge might point out that vacationers have been early in the midst of their infections — and thus had viral masses too low for some checks to detect — after they took their predeparture checks, or that they contracted the virus within the time between being examined and touchdown in the US, the researchers say. Individuals may have submitted fraudulent take a look at outcomes.

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Earlier than Nov. 28, practically all the optimistic pattern swimming pools contained the Delta variant, the researchers discovered. (The one exception was a optimistic pattern whose actual genetic lineage couldn’t be decided.)

After that, nevertheless, Omicron shortly got here to dominate; from Nov. 28 to Jan. 23, two-thirds of the optimistic samples have been Omicron. Many of the Omicron samples have been the BA.1 subvariant, which was initially essentially the most prevalent model worldwide. BA.1 stays the most typical lineage in the US, although BA.2 has been gaining floor and now accounts for 35 % of infections, in accordance with C.D.C. estimates.

However the researchers discovered the BA.3 subvariant in a pool of samples collected from vacationers arriving from South Africa on Dec. 3. They reported the discovering in GISAID, a global repository of viral genomes, on Dec. 22. It was the primary reported case of BA.3 in the US; it could be greater than a month earlier than the subsequent was reported.

The airport program additionally detected the primary identified U.S. case of BA.2, in samples collected from South African vacationers on Dec. 14. The researchers reported the discovering per week earlier than the subsequent U.S. case of BA.2 was reported.

“This can be a new device within the C.D.C. device equipment that works, and we’ve proven it’s efficient and it may be layered with all of our different mitigation measures,” Dr. Friedman mentioned.

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