According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron coronavirus subvalants BA.4 and BA.5 now account for approximately 35 percent of cases in the United States. Sub-options are gaining momentum faster than their predecessors, including the current ruling sub-option BA.2.12.1, which is now declining.
Pairs that shared the same mutations in their SARS-CoV-2 proteins but differed elsewhere in their genomes are expected to dominate “within a few weeks,” Dr. Shishi tells Luo Arska. Luo is the head of Infectious Diseases at Helix, a California-based company that works with the CDC to monitor coronavirus variants across the country.
It is unknown at this time what will happen in the final stages of the pandemic. So far, what we know about the two subvariants is mixed.
The bad and the good news
When BA.4 and BA.5 were first discovered in South Africa in April, it quickly became clear that the two could avoid vaccination and previous infection, and even infection from previous omicron variants.
Researchers in Boston on Wednesday published data confirming these results in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the latest data, vaccinated and amplified people had 21 times lower neutralizing antibody titers against BA.4 and BA.5 than the initial version of SARS-CoV-2. The level of neutralizing antibodies was 3.3 times lower than BA.1. Similarly, in people previously infected with BA.1 or BA.2 (most of whom have been vaccinated), the level of neutralizing antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 is still almost 3 times lower than in BA.1 or BA.2. .1.
In addition, a recently published preliminary study found that BA.4 and BA.5 caused more severe pain in hamsters than BA.2 and BA.2.12.1.
However, there is some good news so far: BA.4 and BA.5 hospitalization data from other countries that have already emerged, including South Africa – show that these options do not cause serious illness and hospitalization in humans.
Thus, antiviral drugs are still effective and vaccinations still protect against serious illness and death, Luo says there is no time to really worry. “I don’t think it’s necessary,” Luo said of the oncoming wave.
However, as BA.4 and BA.5 approach dominance in the U.S., they have become the fourth and fifth omicron subvariants to dominate this year after BA.1, BA.2, and BA.2.12.1 – the question is: What’s next?
With BA.4 and BA.5 appearing in South Africa a few weeks ago, we got a chance to see this next wave come. However, “there don’t seem to be other options that are currently being raised,” Luo said. There are always samples of the virus here and there, and they don’t have a tag – it could be new options – but none of them are infecting an increasing number of people due to the lack of speed, he said. Therefore, BA.4 and BA.5 can have more power than their predecessors in the absence of new usurpers.
“But you know, that could change in the next few days,” Luo said. “I would not allow this virus to mutate again and have another wave.”
Federal regulators and vaccine makers are preparing to have omicron subwoofers with us at least in the fall and winter. The Food and Drug Administration is ready to allow next-generation vaccines and boosters that will prevent seasonal outbreaks by the fall. The regulator’s expert advisers will meet next week, June 28, to discuss the formula for the next generation of vaccines. The best candidates are those who aim for omicron.
Short-term and long-term plans
On Wednesday, Moderna released preliminary data that it would recommend to the FDA, which is a combination (bivalent) vaccine BA.4 and BA.5 aimed at both the original version of SARS-CoV-2 and the original Omiron variant. According to Moderna, a bivalent amplifier called mRNA-1273.214 can increase the level of neutralizing antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 by up to 6 times.
“As the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 continues, we are very encouraged by the fact that mRNA-1273.214 has shown high neutralizing titers against BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, the main enhancing candidates for our fall. A threat to global public health,” Moderna said. CEO Stefan Bansel said in a statement: “We will pass this information to regulators immediately and are preparing to provide next-generation bivalent amplifiers from August onwards, before the potential increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to omicron subvalants in early autumn.”
While Moderna’s short-term outlook is optimistic, Luo is concerned that the evolution of the virus continues and that our potential to find new options is diminishing. As people try to get through the acute phase of the pandemic, people are submitting fewer samples for testing. “Looking ahead, we need to understand [enough samples]? … Otherwise, are there enough ambulances or medical systems or hospitals that can take a sample and send it to consistency? I don’t think there is a system that can do that on a large scale, “Luo said.
Although Helix is looking for ways to install such surveillance systems, Luo says there needs to be a broader national strategy to stay ahead of the options. “Even though we think there is no other option on the horizon now, we need a plan for how we, as a country, should respond to it.” “Just don’t hope it disappears on its own.” In the worst-case scenario, there is another option that interferes with treatment and vaccines: “We don’t want to go back to the first square, right? We need a plan.”