While BA.5 remains the most prominent variant of COVID-19, accounting for 67.9% of the country’s coronavirus cases, its dominance appears to be waning as the number of other omicron subvariants increases.
Chicago’s top doctor said she was “a little concerned” about the variation in a Facebook question-and-answer session earlier this week, which comes ahead of the winter season, the time of year that has historically seen some of the biggest cases of COVID. overvoltage.
“But the reason we’re still low risk — and that’s why we’re doing that low, medium and high risk for the variants — is because everything is still micron,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, noting that the variants currently in circulation remain sub-variants of the omicron strain that wreaked havoc across the country last winter.
That’s good news, she said, because experts believe the new bivalent COVID booster shots, which were formulated to target the omicron variant and later adapted to specifically address the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, may also protect against other omicron subvariants that circles, like BA.4.6 or BF.7.
It remains unclear whether these new bivalent boosters will protect against infection in general, and studies are still ongoing even as Americans get the shots.
Germany’s health minister warned in late September that the country was seeing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases as it moved into autumn and called on older people to get new booster shots. Other European countries such as France, Denmark and the Netherlands are also seeing an increase in cases, Karl Lauterbach told reporters in Berlin.
“It is clear that we are at the beginning of a winter wave,” he said.
Arwady noted that while the mutations have so far remained under the omicron, a new variant that is not a subvariant of the omicron could emerge, leading to a much greater challenge in the fight against COVID.
“Variants are the million dollar question when it comes to this winter in COVID,” Arwady said. “All sub-variants… whether it’s new [BF.7], be it BA.4.6 – they are all still sub-variants of omicron. So that’s good news because even where we see continued evolution of the omicron variant, it’s all still in the omicron family, which means that people who get the updated vaccine will have better protection against whatever continues to evolve into the omicron space. The big question is whether we get another emergence of a variant that is very genetically different in the way that Omicron was very genetically different, Delta was very genetically different, Alpha was very genetically different. We haven’t had a big new, genetically different variant come out really since last December, January. It’s been almost a year.”
Despite vaccine acceptance, Arwady said she still expects an increase in the coming months.
“I haven’t seen anything dire on the horizon yet, but I think we’re going to see an increase in COVID. I’d be the happiest person alive if we get to February or March and we haven’t seen even a small increase in COVID, just because it’s respiratory season and the way that we’re seeing flu and RSV and everything go up in the winter, I think we’re expecting at least some increase in COVID,” she said. “The question is really how did it look with the variants?”