The Omicron coronavirus subvariant BA.5 is moving toward complete dominance in the US, which now accounts for an estimated 78 percent of the country’s cases — which are also rising.
The breakneck acquisition is surprising, with BA.5 showing a significant growth advantage over all other lineages and sub-lineages. In the US, it appears to contain BA.4, which shares the same spike protein mutation but has a different mutation elsewhere in its genome.
In early June, BA.5 accounted for less than 10 percent of cases, with BA.4 lagging slightly, accounting for an estimated 6.4 percent. Since then, BA.5 has increased by 78 per cent, while BA.4 peaked at 14.4 per cent in early July and has now declined to 12.8 per cent.
Globally, BA.4 and BA.5 are now collectively dominant, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Based on genetic data compiled in an international repository, BA.4/5 accounts for 69 percent of all SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences globally.
Worldwide, there has been a 27 percent increase in cases and a 34 percent increase in deaths over the past two weeks, according to data tracking by The New York Times. Similarly, in the US, there has been a 20 percent increase in cases, a 20 percent increase in hospitalizations, a 19 percent increase in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions, and a 9 percent increase in deaths. developed.
“still in it”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 97 percent of US countries have high or sufficient SARS-CoV-2 transmission levels. Based on the agency’s “COVID-19 community level” metric, which accounts for hospital bed availability and admissions as well as case rates, about 75 percent of U.S. counties are at high or medium levels. Notably, more than 35 percent of counties are designated high levels, at which point the CDC recommends masking in indoor public settings.
But the case count—in the US and elsewhere—is likely to be a significant low, given that many government testing efforts have pulled back, and many people are now testing at home and not reporting their results. are.
In a variant update video published Tuesday, the COVID-19 technical chief for the World Health Organization, Maria Van Kerkhove, stressed that data is becoming increasingly limited, despite the threat of SARS-CoV-2 remaining high.
“Over 5.7 million cases were reported to the WHO last week and those are the cases we know of,” Van Kerkhove said. “And that’s an understatement, as there has been a drastic drop in surveillance activities around the world, including testing.”
Even with high transmission, the virus can still spread to many uninfected people around the world and develop into new forms.
“You have to remember that there are millions, if not billions, of people who have not yet received the full course of the vaccine, two and a half years into this pandemic, and they are at increased risk of serious illness and death. Van Kerkhove said.
He said that people should do everything possible to reduce the spread. This means “masks, distancing, ventilation, getting vaccinated, spending more time outdoors than indoors. Work from home when unwell. It’s not just about you… we’re still in this pandemic.”