COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.5 emerges as dominant strain
By making up 53.6% of cases as of July 8, the COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.5 is now the predominant strain spreading in the country. In February 2022, the variation was discovered for the first time in South Africa, where it quickly increased the number of infections. BA.5 may be the most contagious variety to date, and data from many pre-print studies (that have not yet undergone peer review) suggest that it may be able to partially bypass immunity from prior infections and vaccinations. Additionally, data demonstrate that even while BA.5 is increasing the number of infections, prior infections and vaccine-induced immunity continue to shield the majority of patients from serious illness, in-patient stays, and even death. According to Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist with UCSF, "South Africa has excellent genomic surveillance and data output and has shown us that BA.5 is likely to cause rises in cases (as it already does in the U.S.), but not major increases in severe disease with the degree of population immunity we now have in this country."