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Breakthrough Omicron Infections

The Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 are now the dominant circulating viruses in the US. "Eric Topol, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research, says that BA.5 is the worst version of the virus that we've seen."  Reinfections which were rare before Omicron (1% in UK April 2021), seem to be increasing.  The UK is reporting 11-27% reinfections now, but it is unclear whether the US will follow this surge.  Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina says the rate of first infection in NY is now 28/100K, with a current reinfection rate of 5/100k.  Unvaccinated people, those who had a mild first case, or those with waning immunity are at greatest risk.  Reinfections with Omicron can occur as soon as the virus clears (i.e. 20 up to 90 days).  Fortunately, as we follow these variants, it seems as if protection against severe disease is still present if vaccines are up to date or with prior Covid-19 infections.  
 
These new subvariants of Omicron have increased transmissibility and can avoid immunity from vaccines and prior infections.  Both of the variants have mutations in their spike proteins that are different enough from earlier versions of the virus.  It is unclear whether the US will have a big surge, but mRNA for these 2 variants will probably be part of the bivalent Covid Fall vaccines that are manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.  The CDC says there is no evidence so far that these virus subvariants cause more severe disease, although if there is a surge, hospitalizations will rise just due to the increased number of cases in the country.

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Friends:  If you are eligible for a 2nd booster, please get it now.  The infection rate of the variants is increasing and these boosters reduce deaths.  See the last blog post for real data. On Friday NYC residents were told to wear high-quality masks indoors and crowded outdoor venues because of the spread of omicron subvariants.

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