Each week of summer seems to bring another announcement of a new COVID subvariant.
The latest? The Omicron subvariant is called BA.5. What’s the worry? It is the most transmissible subvariant yet and expected to quickly overtake all previous strains to become the dominant version to spread throughout the U.S. and across the globe. The variant is unique enough to cause those who have immunity from previous Omicron infections to become ill again.
Last week, the CDC reported BA.5 had become the dominant variant in the U.S., accounting for nearly 54% of total COVID cases. Studies show extra mutations in the spike protein make the strain three or four times more resistant to antibodies, though it doesn’t appear to cause more severe illness.
Despite rising cases, increased hospitalizations, and urging by the CDC, Washington state Governor Inslee says he does not plan to reinstate masking requirements. At least not yet.
While another wave of cases this summer could prolong the pandemic, especially after most public health precautions were lifted and available vaccines started losing efficacy, we don’t need to panic, but we should take precautions.
Read more from Axios, Forbes, and the CDC