Dubbed the “Ninja” variant, the BA.5 subvariant of the basic Omicron variant is a new form of the Coronavirus that some people say might be the worst of them all. At this time it may not be too much of a stretch to say that it could lead to a return to Covid shutdowns and the wearing of masks everywhere.
According to America’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the BA.4 and BA.5 Covid subvariant are responsible for 70% of all new Coronavirus cases. This is compared to just 1% of all new cases at the start of May. The BA.5 subvariant was first identified in South Africa back on February 26.
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And the subvariants affect even vaccinated people. For now, however, people who have been vaccinated for Covid are not showing any serious symptoms nor, in general, do they need hospitalization. But the real fear here is that as these two new subvariants spread they could lead to another new mutation that could be completely impervious to the Covid 19 vaccines and once again cause infected people serious problems and the need for hospitalization.
David Montefiori, a professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center, told NBC News, “At this stage now, I think all these variants actually are roughly equally transmissible, so there’s not a huge difference. It’s just some are slightly better at infecting people who have been vaccinated or infected by previous variants.”
Eric Topal, Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research, said, “The Omicron sub-variant BA.5 is the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen. It takes immune escape, already extensive, to the next level, and, as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility, well beyond Omicron (BA.1) and other Omicron family variants that we’ve seen.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended modifying booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna to target BA.4 and BA.5 directly. The FDA says that it expects such modified booster shots will be ready by the fall.
In other Covid news, Australia has now authorized the use of Covid antiviral treatments for all people over 70. The Guardian reported that more than 73,000 Australians benefited from such antiviral medicines. The paper said that they can help stop Covid-19 infection from becoming severe if detected early and prescribed by a doctor.