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What to Know: BA.5 Becomes Dominant Variant in U.S.

Variant accounts for more than 50 percent of U.S. cases

July 06, 2022

In less than a month, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant has become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, according to the latest CDC data.

The latest CDC variant report indicates BA.5 accounts for nearly 54 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. followed by BA.2.12.1 (27%) and BA.4 (17%).

Here’s what you need to know about the dominant variant in the U.S.:

  • Characteristics:  Research is still underway to understand BA.5 and its sibling variant, BA.4. During June, BA.5 quickly ascended to become the dominant strain, going from about 10 percent of U.S. cases to more than half of all cases in a month. Early reports suggest the subvariant has mutations that may help it evade immune protection from previous infection and vaccination, leading to more cases and re-infections.
  • Case counts:  Reported COVID-19 cases have increased nearly 30 percent worldwide during the past two weeks, but remain far below the winter peak in the U.S. and Pennsylvania. Public health officials have noted that the availability of at-home tests could affect case counts and surveillance. The seven-day national average for new cases is about 106,000.
  • Severe disease:  Thus far, hospitalizations in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania remain far below winter levels. In Pennsylvania, 1,054 people are hospitalized with the virus, state figures show. The seven-day national average for new hospital admissions for patients with COVID-19 (5,118) has increased about 5.6 percent from the prior week.
  • Vaccine:  The COVID-19 vaccines continue to confer broad protection against severe disease, but the nation’s public health leaders are considering their next steps for an Omicron-specific booster for the fall. Updating the COVID-19 booster shot is a challenging decision, as the virus can change quickly.
  • Quotable:  “We don’t know how the next variant will be like. This requires that we apply the tools we have now and that we develop the next generation of counter measures quickly,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today.

HAP urges everyone who is eligible to remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. If you are experiencing symptoms or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, it’s important to get tested to learn your COVID-19 status.

HAP continues to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and will provide updates to members and the general public. Additional information about BA.5 and other variants is available online.