Don’t take off those masks just yet. COVID-19 appears to be spiking across the United States and a new variant is responsible for the sudden surge. Reuters noted that health officials are encouraging Americans to boost up against the BA.5 variant, which now accounts for nearly 65%t of coronavirus strains across the U.S.
The unique variant, which shares similarities to its close cousin BA.4, contains three genetic mutations found in its spike protein that can evade immunity provided by vaccines. It can also reinfect those who have previously fallen ill with COVID. While hospitalizations remain relatively low in comparison to when COVID was at its peak, patients needing intensive care have risen by 23% over the past two weeks, according to CNN. The 7-day moving average for daily cases has also skyrocketed, up to 123, 365 this week alone.
BA.5 is rising among middle-aged Americans
Research has shown that immunity begins to wane following infection or six months after receiving a booster shot, however, the vaccine does help to prevent severe hospitalization or death from variants like BA.5.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who was also present during the briefing said health officials are still struggling to understand the unique strain.
“We do not know about the clinical severity of BA.4 and BA.5 in comparison to our other Omicron subvariants,” she explained. “But we do know it to be more transmissible and more immune-evading. People with prior infection, even with BA.1 and BA.2, are likely still at risk for BA.4 or BA.5.”
While highly contagious, infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci claimed that BA.5 does not appear to be associated with greater disease severity or hospitalizations compared to the most recent subvariants.
BA.5 could be dangerous for people of color
Still, the news is particularly concerning for people of color, as COVID disproportionately impacts the community. Black and Hispanic people are two times more likely to be hospitalized or potentially die from the disease. Black and Hispanics also risk developing illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes, which could be dangerously exacerbated if infected with COVID.
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The Rising BA.5 Variant Could Be Especially Dangerous For People Of Color was originally published on newsone.com
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