“It’s just a reminder that we’re not out of the woods with regard to this virus, and people should continue to take precautions and to get fully vaccinated if they haven’t completed their course,” said Kirsten St. George, a virologist for the state who led the work.

Two new versions of Omicron, the coronavirus variant that has swept through the world in the past few months, are circulating in New York State and may be responsible for rising infections in the region over the past few weeks, state health officials announced on Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

The appearance of these variants, both of which evolved from the subvariant BA.2, may explain why New York has been the national hot spot the last few weeks, the officials said. So far, the new viruses do not appear to cause more severe disease than previous variants, the officials said.

The two subvariants appear to spread rapidly, with a growth advantage of about 25 percent over BA.2, which itself was more contagious than any variant that came before it. But it’s unclear whether the subvariants spread more quickly because of greater contagiousness or an improved ability to sidestep the body’s immune defenses. One of the new subvariants has a mutation that has been shown to help dodge immunity.

“It’s just a reminder that we’re not out of the woods with regard to this virus, and people should continue to take precautions and to get fully vaccinated if they haven’t completed their course,” said Kirsten St. George, a virologist for the state who led the work.

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