July 12, 2022 — The BA.5 Omicron sub-variant now dominates, accounting for 65 percent, or about two-thirds, of the viruses that cause COVID-19 in the United States, federal officials said Tuesday. Although there is no evidence that BA.5 causes more severe disease, hospitalizations have increased over the past few months, as has the number of cases of this highly contagious strain of the virus.
But the White House and public health officials say they are ready.
“The fact that BA.5 is now the primary variant sub-variant in the U.S. is not surprising,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, said during a White House COVID-19 news briefing Tuesday. team and health officials. “We’re ready. We’ve been planning for this moment.”
if people follow CDC recommendations Stay up to date on masking in high and medium risk locations Vaccinationseek antiviral treatment once you test positive, and follow other familiar public health measures, “We can spend the next 4, 6 or 8 weeks with whatever nature throws at us and what nature throws at us. anything this fall and winter,” Jha said.
The White House also issued a Fact Sheet Outline its plans and describe the management of BA.5 in more detail.
It’s time to step up
One of the key messages in the briefing was that not enough older adults had received a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, also known as a second booster.
“My message is simple for anyone 50 or older,” Jha said. “If you don’t get vaccine Shot in 2022… go ahead and buy one now. It can save your life. “
“Many Americans are under-vaccinated,” agreed CDC Director Rochelle Valensky, MD.
For example, so far, only 28 percent of people 50 and older have received a second booster, compared with 34 percent of Americans 65 and older, she said.
“These Americans must get a second booster immediately.”
Walensky also shared data from April 2022 showing that people aged 50 and older who received the main series and one booster dose had a four times higher risk of death than those who received the main series and two or more booster doses.
“The extra booster greatly reduces your risk of going to the hospital, going to the intensive care unit and dying,” Jha said. “Few of the things we do in medicine have the kind of benefit we see from the extra injections.”
Boosters are still important, said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Immunity will be weakened, either immunity after infection or immunity After vaccination, “protection is usually good even after infection or immediate post-vaccination.”
When asked about expanding the second booster shot to all Americans, experts said it was under consideration, but there was no clear timeline for when the FDA might authorize it.
Valensky also talked about whether Raise now or wait For variant-specific vaccines expected to be launched this fall.
“The reason for boosters now is to prevent infection. There are a lot of infections now, and hospitalizations are increasing,” she said.
more people in hospital
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 5,135 a day, an increase of 0.6 percent, Walensky said.
“While this represents only a slight weekly increase, it does represent a doubling of hospitalizations since the beginning of May.”
Fauci noted that BA.5 was not associated with more severe disease or hospitalization rates compared with earlier Omicron subvariables. But he explained that because the total number of cases in BA.5 is increasing, there are more people hospitalized overall.
As of July 9, the number of people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 was 16,631, according to CDC data. On the same day, 3,380 new students were admitted nationwide. (By comparison, the largest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 this year, 22,920, occurred on January 12.)
What’s more, about 300 to 350 Americans are still dying from COVID-19 every day.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s too high,” Jha said. “In administering BA 5, we will continue to use the infrastructure and tools we have built to reduce suffering and death.”
Seek treatment when positive
Paxlovid continues to be able to treat COVID-19 early in the disease, Jha said.
“It’s an oral antiviral that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 90 percent,” he said. “If you test positive in the coming days and weeks, talk to your healthcare provider about your Treatment eligibility, or visit a testing and treatment site where you can get tested and treated in one place.”
Jha recommends getting tested for COVID-19 before attending large indoor gatherings or visiting high-risk, immunocompromised people.
“You don’t want to be the one who brought Covid-19 to your grandparents or brought Covid-19 to your wedding.”
Fauci noted that the monoclonal antibody bebtelovimab, which the FDA authorized for emergency use in February, appears to be effective in treating mild to moderate COVID-19.
Call the police for no reason
“The bottom line is don’t panic about BA.5,” Fauci said. “We shouldn’t let it disrupt our lives, but we can’t deny that it’s a reality we need to deal with.”
An increase in infections related to COVID-19 could also mean more people are at risk of long-term COVID-19 infection.Jia says Biden administration takes Corona Virus “Very seriously” and is researching ways to prevent and care for people with persistent symptoms.
Long-term COVID may be more than one clinical condition, and more work needs to be done to understand and tease it out, he said.
Continuing to develop the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is critical, Fauci said.
“The vaccines we have right now are fantastic; they’ve saved millions of lives. But given the virus and the speed at which it’s evolving, it continues to pose challenges, and we have to keep updating these vaccines for what’s going on.”
“We are watching BA.5 closely,” Jha continued. “We are encouraged that severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low based on infection levels.”
“It’s not a coincidence. It’s not random,” he said. “This is due in large part to our successful vaccination programs, our efforts to empower people, and our incredibly focused efforts to ensure that treatments and tests are widely available.”