Again, Covid-19 seems to be everywhere. After the American wave of omicrons in January and a slight increase in infections in March, it appeared that the disease could be kept under control. However, all of a sudden, people who recovered from a Covid-19 infection in March or April are now starting to feel tired again, coughing and wondering how they got positive tests even though they were recently sick. CNN.
This time the culprit is a new variant called the Omicron, BA.5. It has three key mutations in its protein that make it highly contagious and infectious.
Within two months, BA.5 surpassed other variants and became the leading cause of Covid-19 in the US. Last week, according to the latest data from the CDC, this subtype caused 2 out of 3 new Covid-19 infections.
Laboratory studies of antibodies in the blood of people who have been vaccinated or recovered from recent Covid-19 infections have shown that B.A. Therefore, people who have recently contracted Covid in the winter or even in the spring may be reinfected with the virus.
BA.4 or BA.5, more spreadable and strong
“We have no information on the clinical severity of BA.4 and BA.5 compared to our other Omicron subtypes,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “But we know it’s very contagious and attacks the immune system very strongly. People with previous infections, even with BA.1 and BA.2, are probably still at risk for BA.4 or BA.5.
As Americans turn to rapid at-home testing, the official tally of cases — currently about 110,000 new infections a day — is only a fraction of the disease’s true impact.
“We estimate that there are 7 cases for every one unreported case,” Ali Moqdad, a professor of health sciences at the University of Washington, said in an email.
Other experts believe the tide could be 10 times higher than what is now being reported.
“There are probably almost a million new cases a day,” Dr. Peter Hodes told CNN on Monday. “It’s a complete BA.5 wave that we’re going to experience this summer. In fact, it looks as bad in the southern states as in 2020, as in 2021,” said Hodes, dean of the Houston National School of Medicine.
While this may not seem like a big deal, vaccines and better treatments have greatly reduced the risk of death from Covid-19, although around 300 to 350 people die from Covid-19 every day, enough to fill a large passenger plane.
“This is unacceptable. This number is very high,” Dr. Ashish Jha, coordinator of the White House’s Covid-19 response team, told a briefing on Tuesday.
Daily hospitalizations in the US are also on the rise. The proportion of patients requiring intensive care has increased by around 23% in the last two weeks.
Other countries are also facing BA.5 waves
“I am concerned that the number of Covid-19 infections continues to rise, putting even more pressure on health systems and health workers. I am also concerned about the rising number of deaths,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The epidemic, he said, “is never ending.”
There are also strong health risks. A recent study shows that new health problems are more common or at higher risk for people who have re-infected with Covid-19.
The virus is spreading even faster and introducing new mutations, much faster than vaccines can be developed to deal with them.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommended that Americans use all available tools to prevent the spread of the virus, including masks, good ventilation and social distancing.
“We need to keep the virus level as low as possible, which is our best defense. If a virus is not circulating, new variants are less likely to emerge,” Fauci told a news conference.
“Centaurus”, a new covid variant appeared. “Future risk,” say experts
Meanwhile, another subtype of Omicron — BA.2.75 — has been detected in about 10 countries, including the US, and appears to be expanding rapidly in India.
According to Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, BA.2.75 has nine changes in its peak region that differentiate it from BA.2 and about 11 compared to BA.5.
For example, it is not yet known how BA.2.75 can compete with BA.5 or whether it causes more severe disease. But experts say it has all the hallmarks of a variant that could become global.
“It’s already spread to many countries, so we know its staying power,” said Shishi Luo, director of bioinformatics and infectious diseases at Helix Labs.
Based on what is known so far, this subtype is expected to bring a new wave of Covid-19 to the United States in the fall.
In this context, US health officials have urged people, especially those over 50 who are still against Covid, to do so: “If you haven’t been vaccinated this year, go get it. Do it now. It could save your life.”
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