With Omicron BA.5 Sub-Option Rollout, White House Commits to Provide Access to Boosters, Testing

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The White House said Tuesday it will make sure Americans continue to have it easy access to vaccines against COVID-19treatment and testing to contain the rapidly spreading Omicron BA.5 subvariant, which currently accounts for the majority of U.S. cases.

Health officials say there are indications that a sub-option may be better. avoidance of immunityincluding from previous infections.

BA.5 is estimated to account for 65% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States last week, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The BA.5 and BA.4 sub-options together accounted for more than 80% of the circulating options last week, with BA.4 accounting for 16%, Valensky told reporters at a White House briefing.

seven-day average daily number of COVID-19 The number of hospitalizations in the United States has doubled since early May, she said.

BA.5 does not appear to be associated with greater disease severity or hospitalization compared to the most recent suboptions. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease expert, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

People wait to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a pop-up testing site in New York, USA, on July 11, 2022.

People wait to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a pop-up testing site in New York, USA, on July 11, 2022.
(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

“Options will continue to emerge. The virus is circulating around the world and in this country. We should not let it ruin our lives, but we cannot deny that this is a reality that we need to deal with,” Fauci said at the same briefing.

Officials said they are prioritizing booster shots, widely available home testing and high-quality masks, and supporting those who are immunocompromised.

“We can prevent serious illness, we can keep people out of hospitals and especially intensive care units, we can save lives, and we can minimize the disruption caused by COVID-19. Even in the face of BA.5 tools, we continue to work,” said Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

“We are in the pandemic phase where most deaths from COVID-19 are preventable,” he said.

The White House said the widespread spread of BA.5 means new cases are likely to rise in the coming weeks.


“Immunity is weakened, whether it’s immunity after an infection or immunity after a vaccine, although immediate protection after an infection or a vaccine is usually a good defense,” Fauci said. “If you’ve been infected with BA.1, you really don’t have many good defenses against BA.4/5.”

US Food and Drug Administration recommended that COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers redesign their booster shots from autumn to better deal with sub-options BA.4 and BA.5.

Receiving a second booster now will not render a person ineligible for a vaccine against a particular variant, Jah said.