The White House issued a warning on Tuesday (July 12) about the fast-spreading Omicron BA.5 subvariant in the United States and urged Americans over age 50 to get vaccination boosters.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the administration’s COVID response coordinator, urged people over 50 to get another vaccine shot if they didn’t get one this year. “It could save your life,” he stated.
Jha explained, "If you've not gotten a shot in 2022, first of all, getting one now protects you for the rest of the summer, into the fall. Second, it does not preclude you from being able to get a bivalent vaccine in the fall.”
The Associated Press compiled administration officials’ comments about the new variant into the video below.
According to Reuters, BA.5 is estimated to account for 65 percent of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States last week, and it was more resistant than previous variants to immunity, including from prior COVID-19 infection.
The BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants together accounted for more than 80 percent of circulating variants last week.
The administration said the new variant’s wide circulation means Covid infections are likely to soar, even among those who were previously vaccinated or contracted the virus.
"Immunity wanes, whether that's immunity following infection or immunity following vaccine, even though the immediate protection following infection or vaccine is generally good protection," Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said. "If you were infected with BA.1, you really don't have a lot of good protection against BA. 4/5."