(CNN) — While some Americans have given up thinking about Covid-19, a new variant has entered the scene and is now driving up infection and hospitalization rates.
The new BA.5 subvariant of omicron shows how the virus continues to evolve despite humanity’s best efforts to defeat it.
The increase in cases is global, caused by both the BA.5 subvariant and another subvariant, BA.4, according to the Eliza Mackintosh report from CNN.
Mackintosh explains how BA.5 is able to evade vaccine protections to infect people, although it has not yet led to an increase in the most severe cases leading to intensive care unit admissions and deaths in the United States.
The BA.5 is now the dominant variant in the US.
The BA.5 subvariant is transmissible even to people who have recently been infected with covid-19, as well as to those who are fully vaccinated.
In the latest example of how science moves the goal of protection against severe cases of Covid-19, second boosters, beyond being fully vaccinated, an initial booster and prior infection, are now the best protection for older Americans .
Give yourself a booster dose. And, if you can, make it two
Public health authorities are urging adults 50 and older to get a second booster dose of Covid-19.
But many still do not pay attention; only a quarter of these eligible adults have received a second booster.
Those under 50 are wondering when they will be able to get another dose.
But the White House argued Tuesday that the BA.5 subvariant is not cause for alarm.
“The message that I want to send to the American people is this: BA.5 is something that we are watching closely and, most importantly, we know how to handle it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, covid-19 response coordinator. from the White House.
Protection depends on you
You can minimize the risk of infection by taking precautions, according to Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“The question people need to ask themselves is this: To what extent do they want to continue to avoid contagion?” Wen told CNN’s Katia Hetter, arguing that the virus is all around us and that many people “may no longer want to plan their lives around Covid-19 precautions, especially if they are generally healthy and well protected against serious diseases”.
But that’s not everyone.
“On the other hand, many people may still prioritize not getting COVID-19 due to the risk of long-lasting symptoms,” Wen said. “They may also have underlying medical conditions that predispose them to more serious outcomes on their own, or they may live with others who are more vulnerable and want to reduce their risk to those around them.”
We may not know the true extent of the BA.5 outbreak, as the official count could miss the vast majority of new infections, which could be as high as a million a day, according to the CNN report.
One of the factors contributing to this tally is the growing reliance on home tests for covid-19, the results of which are rarely reported to health authorities.
On Monday, CNN’s Jake Tapper spoke with Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, who said this surge is likely to hit the South especially hard this summer, as two waves already have.
“This is a full-on BA.5 surge, unfortunately, that we’re experiencing in the summer, and it’s actually looking worse in the southern states. Guess what? Same as 2020, same as 2021.”
Dr. Hotez said the vaccines are really only effective against the new subvariant if you also have the booster, and if you’re eligible, a double booster.
“I think that’s the game changer with this BA.5 sub-variant. … One dose, two doses is not enough. Being infected and recovered, especially with omicron, is not enough. You have to get that booster, preferably two boosters if you are over 50 years old.
And what about more boosters for those under 50?
CNN reported Monday that “US health authorities are urgently working on a plan to allow a second Covid-19 booster for all adults,” fearing that the immunity of younger adults may be waning. as the cases with the predominance of the BA.5 subvariant increase.
Hotez noted that the boosters may not stop infections, but they will certainly be more effective against hospitalizations and death.
Vaccines for children under 5 years of age
While adults age 50 and older are being asked to get a fourth dose, the youngest Americans, those under 5, have just received the first two, and the data suggests the process is going very slowly.
CNN reported last week that just 2% of Americans under the age of 5, that is, about 300,000 children, had received at least one dose since the vaccine was licensed for this age group on June 17.
Covid-19 is not usually as dangerous for younger Americans, although there have been hundreds of deaths.
Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician, described herself as “an anxious new mom” but wrote for CNN about why she vaccinated her 9-month-old son.
These were the top three reasons:
First of all, covid-19 is an unpredictable disease. Although most children have minor symptoms and recover well, many have ended up in hospitals and emergency rooms, and to date, more than 400 children under the age of 5 have died from the disease in the United States alone , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Second…the vaccine is in the body for a short period of time…it tells the body to make protective antibodies against covid-19, and the body’s own cellular mechanisms quickly break it down soon after. Therefore, there is no plausible way that it interferes with the development of my little William, something that I constantly think about. …
Finally, in addition to believing in the rigorous process that vaccines went through to be approved, I believe that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC recruited some of the greatest minds bright lights of our time to serve on the independent panels that reviewed the data and recommended giving vaccines the green light.