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White House urges COVID boosters to protect themselves from BA.5 subvariant spread – SABC News

The White House on Tuesday urged Americans over 50 to get vaccine boosters against COVID-19 as the rapidly spreading subvariant Omicron BA.5 is taking hold in the United States, saying doing so now would prevent another vaccine in not rule out this fall.

US health officials warned that the variant, which accounts for the majority of cases in the country, is more resistant to immunity than previous variants, also due to a previous COVID-19 infection.

It is estimated that BA.5 accounts for 65% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of last week, said Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Officials are urging people 50 and older to get a booster shot and said that wouldn’t prevent them from getting another “bivalent” booster shot later this year, which Omicron aims to be more targeted at repelling.

“First of all, if you haven’t had an injection in 2022, one now will protect you for the rest of the summer into the autumn. Second, it doesn’t preclude you from getting a bivalent vaccine in the fall,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, addresses reporters at a briefing.

Subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 combined accounted for more than 80% of circulating variants last week, with BA.4 accounting for 16%, Walensky said at the same briefing.

The seven-day average of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States has doubled since early May, she said.

BA.5 does not appear to be associated with greater disease severity or hospitalizations compared to recent subvariants, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.

“Variants will continue to emerge as the virus circulates around the world and in this country. We shouldn’t let it interfere with our lives, but we can’t deny that it’s a reality we need to confront,” Fauci said.

The White House said the wide spread of BA.5 means new cases are likely to increase in the coming weeks.

“Immunity wears off, whether it’s immunity after infection or immunity after vaccination, although immediate protection after infection or vaccination is generally good protection,” Fauci said.

“If you were infected with BA.1, you really don’t have good protection against BA.4/5.”

The United States approved booster shots in March, citing data from Israeli studies that showed a fourth shot prevented hospitalizations and deaths in the elderly.

Scientists have questioned whether it is needed by younger, healthy people, and Israeli data showed no benefit in this group.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster vaccines to better target subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

Health officials and White House officials are discussing allowing people under 50 to get the booster shot, but the final decision rests with the FDA and CDC, Fauci said.

White House urges COVID boosters to protect themselves from BA.5 subvariant spread – SABC News

Source link White House urges COVID boosters to protect themselves from BA.5 subvariant spread – SABC News

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