You guys have to be extra careful out here because the new omicron subvariant, known as BA.5, composes the majority of U.S. cases, according to recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Hill reports that BA.5 makes up 53.6 percent of the U.S. cases, and BA.4 makes up 16.5 percent. Both BA.5 and BA.4 together make up 70 percent of infections. While together the pair is shown to “increase the ability to evade protection from vaccines and previous infection.”
Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University, tweets, “Omicron subvariants BA.4 & BA.5 are even more mutated than the original Omicron, which means that our immune systems are having a harder time recognizing these new subvariants, regardless of whether we’ve previously been vaccinated or infected.”
Gounder continues, “We are also seeing early hints that Omicron subvariants BA.4 & BA.5 may be more virulent (causing more severe disease) than the original Omicron.Despite the unsettling news, this should not convince you to avoid getting the vaccine! Vaccines are beneficial against severe disease and hospitalization. And with the increase of new variants, people should get their booster shots if they have not already.”
Gounder suggests that people should not wait for the updated vaccines to be available to get the booster shot.
“The updated vaccines won’t be available until October at the earliest,” she wrote. “That’s 4+ months away. That’s a big window of risk.”
Currently, COVID-19 hospitalizations are low compared to the pandemic. But they are starting to incline and have reached more than 30,000.