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COVID Variant Update: BA.5 Continues to Dominate in U.S. as Another Strain Slowly Gains Steam

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

An omicron subvariant has continued to strengthen its grip as the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, but another version of the virus is slowly starting to pick up steam.

According to the latest estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, the BA.5 subvariant, which has been the dominant strain of COVID in the United States since early July, now makes up an estimated 85.5% of cases across the nation.

That represents a slight uptick from a week ago, with BA.4 and BA.2.12.1 both slowly decreasing as a result.

In the Midwest, BA.5 makes up an even larger chunk of cases, representing 86.6% of all COVID infections, according to CDC estimates.

The BA.5 subvariant has caused some concern among health officials, as it has demonstrated an increased ability to evade immunity gained from previous COVID infections and from COVID vaccinations.

As a result, pharmaceutical companies have begun to formulate booster shots to better combat the new omicron subvariants, and those shots are expected to start going into arms later this year.

While more research is being done about BA.5, there still isn’t much known about another new subvariant that is beginning to make an emergence on the scene. That would be the BA.4.6 subvariant of omicron, which is a mutation of the BA.4 subvariant that began to circulate in late April and into early May.

Even still, that particular subvariant isn’t spreading very quickly, only making up 4.1% of COVID cases this week, but federal officials are keeping a close eye to see if it will gain any further traction.

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