BA.5 wave will be smaller than past omicron surges, experts predict 

As the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5 now accounts for 53.6 percent of cases in the U.S., concerns are rising over the potential for a new surge. However, experts predict it will not be as devastating as past surges.

"BA.5 is doing what omicron does but with a marginally more effective immune evasion," Meaghan Kall, an epidemiologist at the U.K. Health Security Agency Kall, told The Atlantic on July 12. "I don’t believe that it represents a massive paradigm shift."

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have risen 18 percent over the past two weeks, with a daily average of 38,517 people hospitalized as of July 12, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times. Cases have also increased by 19 percent, with 129,858 new cases as of July 12, Times data shows.

"People shouldn’t be surprised if they get infected, and they shouldn’t be surprised if it’s pretty unpleasant," Stephen Goldstein, PhD, a virologist at the University of Utah, told The Atlantic.

Richard Besser, a former acting director of the CDC, told The Hill on July 13 the "sheer volume" of infections would likely lead to a rise in hospitalizations but that he did not think it would be "anywhere near the numbers we saw with the previous omicron surges."  

Dr. Goldstein also told The Atlantic he takes "some level of comfort" in the fact that other countries have used vaccines to keep the severity of BA.5 waves low.


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