Short answer: Probably not.
Longer answer: Probably not, and even if it is, given the extent to which the population is now immune, it is not dangerous to cause real harm.
I wrote about the new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, a few weeks ago. Preliminary data suggest that they are more contagious than the current predominant subvariant in the U.S., BA.2.12.1, which is more contagious than the original Omicron, which itself was insanely infectious. Worse, Omicron’s natural immunity lasts only a few months because pre-infection is not a real defense against BA.4 and BA.5. In fact, they are so immune that they can develop immunity in a person who has recently been infected.
Conclusion: In the Omicron era, people start taking COVID over and over again. There is no immediate prospect of a preventive vaccine: Although mRNA vaccines provide good immunity to severe disease, the smallpox vaccine provides immunity against infection.
So we all finally catch the Omicron subvariant or something. In this case, it is important to know that these subvariants are becoming more virulent.
You may recall that after the Omicron erupted in Africa last winter, scientists tried to understand why those who contracted it had milder symptoms than previous coronavirus strains. Some researchers have suggested that the answer may be that the virus has spread to other parts of the body. Previous strains have multiplied in the lungs, causing pneumonia, which has killed millions. However, Omicron did not increase efficacy in the lungs. It increased in the upper respiratory tract. Since it does not bother the major organs, many people can shake it without causing significant damage.
Japanese researchers say there is evidence that BA.4 and BA.5 spread to the lungs better than their grandfathers.
According to preliminary data from Kay Sato and colleagues at the University of Tokyo, BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.12.1 may have evolved to regenerate lung cell infection rather than upper respiratory tract tissue – making them more similar to previous variants such as Alpha or Delta …
Professor Sato’s experiments have shown that BA.4, BA.5, and BA.2.12.1 replicate more effectively in human lung cells than BA.2, and further experiments on hamsters show that BA.4 and BA.5 can cause more severe disease. consists of.
Dr. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said:
The game is over, man. Game over.
Or is it? Let’s look at some numbers. According to this site, BA.4 and BA.5 make up the vast majority of cases in South Africa that have suffered the most from new subvalances in the last 60 days. In the last 60 days, BA.4 accounted for 63 percent of confirmed cases and BA.5 for more than 20 percent. Sixty days is also a long time for an increase in deaths in the data, because the typical period from COVID infection to death is close to a month. Have we recently seen an increase in deaths due to the alarming prevalence of BA.4 and BA.5 in South Africa?
We do not:
South African researcher Tulio de Oliveira, who rang the global bell last year via Omicron, said the BA.4 and BA.5 waves were the * least * deadly wave the country has ever experienced.
It is more difficult to draw firm conclusions about the United States and the United Kingdom because BA.4 and BA.5 have not yet dominated, or have been dominant for so long that they allow us to draw conclusions about how lethal they can be. Scientists in England believe that the two subvariants are spreading rapidly there, probably due to the recent anniversaries of Queen Elizabeth. In the last seven days, the number of cases has increased by more than 30 percent – especially hospitalizations. This is an interesting proof that there may be something about greater virulence in Japanese data. But how much bigger? Here the death curve appears:
Most of those recently hospitalized may die in the next week or two, sending the curve up, but there is no evidence that the current wave in Britain is particularly fatal. Maybe it’s not as scary as BA.4 and BA.5 fear, but medicine is turning the cases of COVID, which caught the virus and killed a year ago, into short-term hospitalizations. Combining the broader immunity of the population with better therapists like Paxlovid and a much larger knowledge base on how to treat the disease in ER among physicians and nurses, even a virulent subvarian may not be as dangerous in practice. Two subvariants may be more dangerous to send you to the hospital than Omicron, but not more dangerous to send to the morgue. Not at this stage of the pandemic anyway.
Another look at the data. If you look back at the passage above, you will notice that not only Japanese researchers BA.4 and BA.5, but also BA.2.12.1 are more effective in the lungs than the original Omicron. According to the CDC, BA.2.12.1 has been high in the U.S. since the beginning of May:
We had the same situation in England for six weeks, the number of cases not only increased, but also hospitalized. In fact, the number of people hospitalized with COVID has more than doubled since mid-April, which is a lot of evidence that Omicron subvalants are indeed more viral. But what do we see when we look at the death curve?
There is no speaker. In fact, Drage said, we had (293) fewer deaths from COVID yesterday (301) than a year ago, but we had almost * nine times * more confirmed cases – and perhaps more. in fact, if we include all the people who passed the positive test yesterday express tests but never bothered to confirm the infection with the lab. Even in the era of Omicron subvariants, the virus kills fewer people in the percentage of infections than before. There is no compelling reason to say that BA.4 and BA.5 are particularly dangerous.