Recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 now accounts for most COVID-19 cases in the United States.
The BA.5 variant, along with BA.4, include mutations that are increasingly resilient to COVID vaccinations and previous infections, according to CDC information.
”Omicron subvariants BA.4 & BA.5 account for 70% of COVID cases in the U.S.,” New York University infectious disease expert Céline Gounder posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
”We are also seeing early hints that Omicron subvariants BA.4 & BA.5 may be more virulent (causing more severe disease) than the original Omicron,” she added.
Meanwhile, hospitalization levels remain far below prior peaks, but indications show that the number is increasing to levels unseen since February. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services show hospitalizations surpassing 5,000 per day, The Wall Street Journal reported.
”Meantime, the U.S. recently averaged slightly more than 300 deaths a day. A year ago the average dipped to slightly above 200 a day, reflecting a lull in cases as vaccinations rose and a respite before the Delta and then Omicron variants took hold,” the paper added.
The news comes amid an analysis released by the National Institutes of Health’s cancer center earlier in the day that showed COVID was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. between March 2020 and October 2021, according to The Hill.
The virus accounted for 350,000 deaths during the 20 months, followed only by heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death and cancer the No. 2 cause of death.