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Covid-19 in New York: Variants and Johnson & Johnson

By Amanda Rosa

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It’s Wednesday.

Weather: The temperature will soar to around 70 today under mostly sunny skies before falling to the low 50s tonight. Expect some showers tonight, too.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until April 29 (Holy Thursday, Orthodox).

Though the vaccination effort is well underway in New York City, new coronavirus cases remain stubbornly high. The likely culprit: variants.

More contagious variants of the virus account for more than 75 percent of new cases, according to a recent analysis. Newly available ZIP code-level data provides some answers on where the variants appear to be most prevalent.

This data comes as New York State paused its use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday after six cases of a rare disorder involving blood clots were reported in the United States.

[As variants spread through New York City, the state pauses use of the one-dose vaccine.]

Here’s what you need to know:

What variants are spreading?

The most widespread variant in the city is B.1.526, which was first discovered in New York. In the fourth week of March, it accounted for about 45 percent of cases that the Health Department sequenced. (Sequencing involves examining the genetic material of the virus for mutations.) B.1.1.7, a variant that was first found in the United Kingdom, makes up nearly 30 percent of new sequenced cases.

Scientists don’t know which of the two variants is more contagious, but B.1.1.7 is estimated to be 60 percent more contagious and two-thirds more deadly than the original form of the virus.

Despite the variants, hospitalizations are on a slight decline in the city.

Where are the variants spreading?

B.1.526 appears to have a stronghold on much of New York City. It made up more than 50 percent of all the cases sequenced between March 16 and April 1 in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. In the Bronx, it was 61 percent.

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