coronavirus illinois

COVID Variant Update: BA.5 Strengthens Grip as Country's Most-Prevalent Strain of Virus

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The number of COVID cases tied to a more-contagious subvariant continued to grow this week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that nearly two-thirds of the nation’s coronavirus cases are now tied to the strain.

That subvariant of omicron, known as BA.5, is now responsible for an estimated 65% of COVID cases in the United States, according to the latest figures released by the CDC.

The BA.2.12.1 subvariant of omicron, which was the dominant strain of COVID in the United States just over a month ago, is now responsible for just 17.3% of cases this week. The BA.4 omicron subvariant is responsible for an estimated 16.3% of COVID cases.

In the Midwest, the BA.5 subvariant is responsible for nearly 67% of COVID cases, narrowly outpacing the national average, per officials.

The BA.5 subvariant has worried some health officials because of its ability to avoid patients’ immunity to COVID, including from vaccinations or from previous infection. Even still, that only applies to being infected by the virus, with vaccines and previous infections still providing protection against serious illness or hospitalization, according to preliminary studies.

Some physicians are also recommending that residents, especially those at high-risk of infection, resume wearing masks indoors because of the new subvariants of the virus.

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