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CDC: Omicron Subvariant BA.5 Shows Slight Decline While BA.4.6, BA.2.75 Increase

U.S. News & World Report 9/16/2022 Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder
Nurse is comforting a covid patient at the ICU © (Getty Images) Nurse is comforting a covid patient at the ICU

BA.5, the omicron subvariant that has dominated U.S. coronavirus cases since July, has started declining slightly.

BA.5 was responsible for nearly 85% of coronavirus cases in the U.S. this week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a slight decline from its peak in August at nearly 87% of new infections.

The decline is small, but it is paired with an increase of other omicron subvariants that experts are keeping an eye on.

BA.4.6, for example, was responsible for more than 10% of cases this week. That’s up from 3% of infections two months ago.

Meanwhile, BA.2.75 has also entered the scene. It was responsible for over 1% of infections this week.

It’s still unclear if the other subvariants will increase enough to compete with BA.5. Globally, BA.5 is still increasing and accounts for about 90% of cases, while BA.4.6 is decreasing and BA.2.75 is showing slight growth, according to the World Health Organization.

However, WHO notes that a reduction in testing and sequencing means the trends “should be interpreted with due consideration of the limitations of the COVID-19 surveillance systems.”

At least in the U.S., where updated COVID-19 booster shots that target the omicron variant are now available, the trends likely reassure Biden administration officials who hope the shots will help to lessen coronavirus surges expected in the fall and winter.

As of now, experts believe those surges will be fueled by the BA.5 subvariant, which the shots are designed to take on. But they warn that there is always the possibility that another variant will show up out of left field.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week that the end to the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight. But he warned that without more work, the world leaves the door open to new variants.

He said that if the world doesn’t take this chance to end the pandemic, “we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption and more uncertainty.”

Copyright 2022 U.S. News & World Report

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