June 25, 2022

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CDC director says high immunity in U.S. population provides some protection against omicron BA.2

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky gives her opening statement during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on “Next Steps: The Road Ahead for the COVID-19 Response” on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 4, 2021.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday said there is enough immunity in the U.S. population to provide some protection against the more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant, which could help stave off another Covid wave that slams hospitals.

“The high level of immunity in the population from vaccines, boosters and previous infection will provide some level of protection against BA.2,” Walensky said during a White House Covid briefing. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month that infections might rise due to BA.2, but he doesn’t expect another surge.

BA.2 now represents 72% of circulating Covid variants in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has rapidly displaced the earlier version of omicron, BA.1, that caused the massive wave of infection over the winter. At the beginning of February, BA.2 represented about 1% of Covid variants in the U.S.

BA.2 is now the dominant Covid variant in every region of the country, with circulation the highest in the densely populated Northeast, a repeated epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. BA.2 makes up more than 80% of circulating variants in New England, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the CDC.

An estimated 95% of the U.S. population ages 16 and older had developed antibodies against the virus either through vaccination or infection as of December, according to a CDC survey of blood donor samples. However, simply having antibodies against the virus does not necessarily stop an infection. Omicron, with its many mutations, has an enhanced ability to infect both the vaccinated and people who were previously infected.

However, people who…

2022-04-05 20:32:12

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