After the de Blasio administration said that COVID-19 testing should not be focused on vaccinated individuals, the de Blasio administration is now promoting testing data about vaccinated individuals that includes fewer data about vaccinated individuals. NYC Mayor's Office (YouTube/Fair Use)

New York City is not tracking Delta variant substrains, like AY.3, that may threaten a confinement in Israel

The New York City health ministry does not publicly track the worrisome sublineages of the Delta plus variants.

By Progress New York Staff

As the State of Israel methodically monitors new substrains of the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the Coronavirus, New York City’s health ministry isn’t even reporting the prevelance of the worrisome substrains. The substrains, referred to individually as AY.1, AY.2, and AY.3 and respectively as the Delta plus variants, have a reported mutation that allow them to escape antibodies. Referring to AY.3, Dr. Asher Shalmon, the director of the Israeli Health Ministry Department of International Relations, said “If it reaches Israel, we will get to the lockdown that we so desperately want to avoid,” according to a report published by the Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli Government is confronting too many new daily cases of COVID-19 to sequence all cases to identify the prevalence of Coronavirus variants, preventing health ministers from fully-monitoring all variants, according to the Post report. Similarly, the New York City health ministry sequences only a sample of COVID-19 cases, making the City rely on statistical estimates for the prevalence of variants. But the weekly variant sequencing studies published by New York City health ministry do not identify the worrisome sublineages of the Delta plus variants, despite their concern. Progress New York has also raised questions about the quality of the data that feed into the weekly variant sequencing studies.

For this report, the press office supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) did not answer a press inquiry about the failure to track the substrains.

Ongoing and continuing issues with the quality of data.

On Wednesday, the de Blasio administration released a report, claiming that over 96 per cent. of cases of COVID-19 were detected amongst the unvaccinated. The statistic was used to promote more vaccinations. As reported by Progress New York, Mayor de Blasio’s messaging about testing has changed, with health officials in his administration, including Dr. Dave Chokshi, the City’s chief health minister, saying that testing should be focused on individuals, who had yet to receive their vaccinations. As a result, the changes in population subjected to testing can raise questions about the integrity of conclusions reached from testing data, such as the inferences drawn about the number of breakthrough infections. If the de Blasio administration is discouraging vaccinated individuals from getting tested, then studies about testing data will include fewer data about vaccinated individuals.

Because the City of New York has received Federal funding to finance the public health response to the pandemic, including the sequencing of variants, any controversies over the integrity of the City’s data would fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. For this report, the press office supporting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss declined to comment about ongoing questions about the quality of the City’s pandemic data.