As the United States goes into winter, when health experts anticipate a new wave of viral infections, it must contend with at least seven different forms of Covid-19 omicron.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Friday shows that the omicron BA.5 variation, while still the most common in the country, is losing ground to other strains of the virus.
Several closely related new strains, including as BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and BF.7, have emerged from the original Omicron BA.5. According to a research released earlier this month by the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency, these three strains are showing a growth edge over BA.5, the most contagious strain to far.
omicron BA.5 now accounts for around 68% of all new infections in the United States, down from around 80% at the start of October. As reported by the CDC, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and BF.7 are currently responsible for almost 17% of all newly reported infections.
The omicron BA.2 variation, which produced an increase in cases in the spring but has since been pushed out, is connected to BA.2.75. and BA.2.75.2, which are responsible for about 3% of new infections.
Researchers at China’s Peking University discovered that the omicron BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1 were the best at dodging the immune response triggered by a previous infection with BA.5 and various other antibody medicines. The study did not undergo peer review before being released in early October.
U.S. health officials are keeping a close eye on these varieties because of how well they can evade previous immunity, as stated earlier this week by Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid response coordinator.
Because “they have a lot greater immune invasiveness” or “they render many of our treatments useless,” Jha explained why they are being monitored. Those are the two primary concerns that we have.
Jha, however, said that the new omicron boosters that the United States began distributing last month will offer superior protection than the first-generation vaccines against these developing varieties. The new variations are all omicron and most likely descended from BA.5, which is why the boosters focus on that strain.
Jha urged all Americans who are able to receive the new boosters to do so by Halloween. This will ensure that everyone is fully protected for the Thanksgiving holiday, when many families get together.
The researchers at Peking University, however, warned that the BA.5 booster doses may not offer sufficiently wide protection due to the immunological evasiveness of variations like BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1.
How much more effective the boosters will prove to be in practise is unknown. The FDA gave their clearance after reviewing clinical trials conducted on a comparable injection created against the first version of omicron, BA.1.
On Thursday, Pfizer and BioNTech released the first human information from their BA.5 shots. In a laboratory trial using blood samples from persons aged 18 and above, they were able to stimulate a significant increase in the immune system’s defences against omicron BA.5.