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What is BA.4.6? CDC’s new ‘variant of interest’ is beating past Omicron strains

New lines of the Omicron COVID variant, such as BA.4 and BA.5, are helping to spark a wave of re-improving, such as those who have previously encountered COVID-19 contract COVID again.

Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking a new “variant of interest”: BA.4.6. This week, the CDC included the BA.4 subsection in its weekly tracking of COVID cases, with the agency’s chief data officer. tweet that the new subvariable was actually “circulating for several weeks” in the United States. CDC point A strain is a “variant of concern” if it shows greater transmissibility, reduced efficacy, increased severity, or decreased ability to neutralize by antibodies.

According to CDC, BA.4.6 create 4.1% of COVID cases for the week ending July 30. The new variant is more common in the region including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, where it accounts for 10.7% of local cases. The mid-Atlantic region and the South also had a BA,4.6 rate higher than the national average.

The new strain has also been detected in 43 other countries, according to outbreak.infoa community repository of COVID information.

BA.5, an epidemiologist Is called “The worst version of the virus we’ve ever seen” due to its faster transmission and ability to evade existing immunity, still prevails in the US, accounting for 85.5% of the total COVID cases as of July 30. BA.4 and BA. .5 responsible for driving global increase in COVID cases, including in places where the virus was contained until the current wave, like the Chinese city Macau.

Currently, there is not much data on whether BA.4.6 is better than BA.4 or BA.5 in immune evasion. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted on Tuesday that the BA.4.6.s mutation “does not appear to be associated with [compared to] BA.4 / 5 ″ with only a few new mutations compared to previous subvariables.

Omicron-specific vaccine

Even if BA.4.6. Not significantly worse than existing strains, the worrying rate at which new variants emerge is alarming public health officials, who are planning a new vaccine booster next season. this fall.

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration said that it will seek approval boosters directly target the BA.5 variant this fall, rather than making more Americans eligible or a second booster based on the original 2020 COVID strain. Currently, only Americans over the age of 50 are eligible for a second booster shot.

But new variants could make boosters still in development less efficient by the time they are finally ready. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, said the new booster is trying to achieve “moving target“When it comes to determining which variation to address.

The White House is currently pushing for a universal coronavirus vaccine that can target multiple variants at once. “These are vaccines that will last longer, provide longer-lasting protection, no matter what the virus does or evolve as it did,” said Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. how”. Statistical News after the July 25 summit on a COVID vaccine.

However, even with new vaccines being rolled out, experts say Americans are eligible for a different booster. should get one now, as opposed to waiting for a more suitable shot to come in the fall. Research third edition found that the second boost cut the breakthrough infection rate by 65% ​​among Israeli healthcare workers.

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