MIAMI – With the even more contagious BA.5 subvariant surging nationwide, many people have new questions about COVID-19.
The highly-contagious BA.5 subvariant now accounting for about 78% of all COVID infections in the United States, according to the CDC. Now many people are asking if they had COVID in the last three months, will they have immunity against this variant?
“So, if you got COVID three months ago, it’s very likely you had the BA.2 variant, which is an earlier variant. The BA.5 variant is so different from all the variants – all the omicron variants that came before it, it’s very unlikely you have much in the way of protection from that prior infection,” says Dr. Celine Gounder, Editor At Large at KFF’s Kaiser Health News and CBS News Medical Contributor.
Dr. Gounder also says this new subvariant is one reason why those eligible for a booster should not delay getting it.
“People who are eligible for a second booster are people 50 and up or 12 and up and immunocompromised. You should go and get that second booster now,” she says.
Others are asking if there will be a specific vaccine for the BA.5 variant.
Dr. Gounder says, “Moderna and Pfizer both are working on this updated combo vaccines that will include the original formulation as well as a BA.5 component. Those will not be available until probably late October, early November. So, if you are eligible for a booster now, don’t wait for that one, you will still be able to get that one.”
And what about the severity of BA.5 in children? Dr. Gounder says we don’t know much, but parents should get children vaccinated as soon as possible because tens of thousands have been hospitalized and hundreds have died from COVID.
The CDC says the U.S. is averaging more than 120,000 cases a day, but with many people testing at home, the actual number is likely much higher.