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Newest Omicron subvariants are infecting people who should have immunity, researchers say

CBS Boston logo CBS Boston 6/24/2022 Mallika Marshall, MD

BOSTON -- It's no surprise there has been a surge in COVID cases among people who should have immunity and now local researchers have discovered at least one reason why -- a rapidly mutating Omicron variant.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have found that the newest Omicron subvariants may be able to escape antibody responses, not only from people who have had COVID-19 before, but also from those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. 

The new subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are estimated to have caused about a third of new infections in the U.S. last week and that number is growing. This explains why so many people have contracted COVID over recent weeks despite having either had the infection before or being fully immunized.


Video: Newest Omicron subvariants infecting people who should have immunity (CBS Boston)

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That said, the vaccines still provide significant protection against severe disease, and vaccine makers are working on newly formulated shots that can provide stronger protection against these strains. Moderna says their updated vaccine elicits a "potent" immune response against BA.4 and BA.5 and hopes to obtain FDA authorization later this summer.

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