How to remain protected from the BA.5 omicron submutant of coronavirus

BA.5, a new submicron variant of the coronavirus, has become dominant in the United States, accounting for 65% of all infectious diseases nationwide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..A few Experts are calling it The “worst mutant ever seen” is due to its high contagiousness and ability to evade immunity conferred by vaccination or previous infections.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a virtual press conference by White on Tuesday that “even those who have been infected with BA.1 or BA.2 may be at risk for BA.4 and BA.5. Is expensive. ” House COVID-19 compatible team.

Other top US health authorities, including Wallensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that there is a new surge here caused by the Omicron subvariety. However, they have stated that so far BA.5 has shown no signs of causing more serious illness.

“Experience in the past few months and in other countries has shown that compared to the latest subvariants, it does not appear to be associated with greater disease severity or hospitalization,” Fauci said. Mr. says.

The White House’s COVID-19 response team also emphasized that current vaccines are still very protective against serious illness and death. In addition, they said the country has tools such as high-quality masks and antiviral treatments to protect against infections and serious illnesses.

To provide further guidance on how to maintain protection from BA.5, Yahoo News spoke with Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

It is important to have the latest information on COVID-19 vaccination, including boosters

“Vaccines continue to be the only and most important tool to protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jar said in a briefing. Stated. “When we see BA.5 rising nationwide, it’s imperative to stay up to date,” he added.

Gandhi told Yahoo News that BA.5 seems to have avoided even previous infections from vaccine-gated neutralizing antibodies, or other Omicron subvariants such as BA.1, which is probably re-infection. He said it was the reason for the increase in infections. But she said, “T cells that help us prevent serious illness are still functioning.”

T cells are an important part of the immune system and help fight some viruses. Antibodies, such as vaccines and antibodies obtained from previous infections, attack when the virus invades the body, while T cells prevent the virus from multiplying and causing it when it invades the body. Acts as another line of defense. Severe illness.

A woman wearing a scarf and mask is waiting at the booth saying

A woman wearing a mask at the COVID-19 Walkup Test Site in New York City, June 6, 2022. (John Smith / VIEWpress)

of Posting to the medical website Medscape, Gandhi wrote, “Because BA.4 / BA.5 avoids nasal antibodies, mild upper respiratory tract infections will be common.” But she told Yahoo News that T cell immunity to vaccines or previous infections would continue to protect against serious consequences.

“We absolutely know it [for] Even serious illnesses that can be prevented with a vaccine are the worst and specific problems, “Gandhi said.

Wallensky said on Tuesday that the CDC is still collecting data on the efficacy of the vaccine against Omicron BA.5. However, Gandhi pointed out recent data on vaccine efficacy from South Africa. Before BA.5 wave..according to Report From the country’s largest health system, two doses of Pfizer vaccine are 87% effective for hospitalizations from BA.5.

Boosters are the key to maintaining protection from BA.5

Infectious disease experts also emphasize the importance of boosting now if qualified.The reason for that Some studies Vaccine protection against infection and the serious consequences of COVID-19 show that it declines over time, especially for older and immunocompromised individuals.

“Elderly people, immunocompromised people, and people with multiple medical conditions need to be very up-to-date with boosters, which increases the risk of developing large numbers of circulating viruses, even with mild infections. That’s why, even worse, “Gandhi said.

Americans over the age of 50 and Americans over the age of 12 with moderate or severe immunodeficiency are eligible for two boosts. This means that you can get up to 4 COVID-19 vaccines.

according to CDC dataThe risk of death from COVID-19 in adults over the age of 50 who received two boosters is only 25% of the risk of those who received one booster. This data emphasizes the importance of keeping up to date with the COVID-19 vaccine, Jha said.

People over the age of 5 are also eligible for the first booster.The Recommended by CDC People in this age group who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should receive a booster or a third dose at least 5 months after completing the primary series.

U.S. regulatory agencies are also considering offering Immediately a second booster shot for people under the age of 50 or all adultsProvides more protection for this age group and reduces the effects of BA.5 waves.

“I know the FDA is considering this, and I know that CDC scientists are thinking about it and looking at the data,” Jha said on Tuesday. ..

Should I get a booster now or wait until the fall when an Omicron-specific vaccine is available?

One of the concerns many Americans have is that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are designed to target the ancestral ancestral peplomer of the virus that first prevailed in 2020. ..

“BA.5 looks very different from its ancestral strains, at least in peplomer,” Gandhi added, adding BA.1. [an earlier Omicron subvariant] Along the peplomer, there are 26-32 mutations that differ from the ancestral strain, and BA.5 has several more mutations. “That may be the reason why boosters don’t help avoid mild infections as we wanted,” she added.

Pfizer And moderna Both are working A new vaccine formulation designed to target BA.4 and BA.5 omicron submutants. These are scheduled for October, and Jha said on Tuesday that the Biden administration had already ordered Pfizer for one dose of 105 million doses.

Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are labeled as suspensions for intramuscular injection.

Vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (AP photo / Jenny Kane, file)

However, Gandhi is a wise choice to get a booster now if qualified, and not recently recovered from COVID-19 infection, which prevents him from getting another Omicron-specific booster. I said it wasn’t. autumn.

“There was no evidence that bringing the vaccine closer was harmful,” Gandhi said.

“Boosters and exposures spread T-cell immunity. That’s good. This means no harm. No harm at all,” Gandhi said. Recent research We support this recommendation.

But for healthy people under the age of fifty, Gandhi is “probably wise” to wait for an omicron-specific vaccine in the fall, while people in this group use all precautions such as masking and testing. I said it was necessary, to avoid infection. “Then you’ll get antibodies tailored to the circulating submutants,” she said.

For high-risk people, treatment helps prevent serious consequences

For individuals who are very likely to get sick with COVID-19, there are several treatments available that can reduce the chance of hospitalization or death. One of them is the antiviral drug Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 90%.

According to the CDC, the drug can only be prescribed by health care providers and should be prescribed to function effectively within 5 days of the onset of symptoms.

Health officials consulted with a healthcare provider immediately after being tested positive for COVID-19. Available treatmentsIncluding Paxlovid.

Americans are also encouraged Access Find a place to test and treat, test and treat everything in one place.

“We have worked very hard to get these tablets more than any other country in the world. And we have these treatments widely spread in more than 41,000 locations across the country. We acted swiftly to make it available, “Jha said in a briefing on Tuesday.

11 Paxlovid pills.

Pfizer’s Pax Robin is on display at Pembroke Pines, Florida on July 7, 2022 (Joe Raidle / Getty Images).

What can you do to prevent infection?

Gandhi and the U.S. Supreme Health Authority said public health mitigation measures such as indoor masking, testing, and improved ventilation are important to prevent BA.5 infections.

CDC A tool to check the amount of virus circulating in each community, And to help people decide whether to consider masking indoors or in public.

But some infections Experts warn that the CDC community level map may not provide the big picture The number of infections and the degree of risk, as many cases have not been reported as many people test at home.

Gandhi says wearing proper, high-quality masks in public places, especially when using public transport, is a good way to avoid getting BA.5 now. increase.

Improving ventilation is also important

“We know that improving indoor air quality by improving ventilation and installing indoor air purifiers can make a big difference between infection and reduction of infection,” Jha said. Says. “If you are a company, school, or any kind of institution that brings people indoors, try to improve the quality of their indoor air.”

Finally, Gandhi says testing is an important factor in stopping transmissions.

“For example, if you are around a vulnerable person or if you are exposed to someone. [with COVID-19], Please test. “

Thumbnail photo on cover: CFOTO / Future Publishing by Getty Images