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Researchers are concerned about a few new COVID subvariants that could attack the lungs

Written by Javed Iqbal

Researchers are concerned about a few new strains of SARS-CoV-2, noting that the variants appear to be able to slip past some antibodies against the virus and attack the lungs, according to a new report.

The subvariants of the now dominant Omicron variant – dubbed BA.4 and BA.5 – “appear to partially elude antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, making them more transmissible than other forms of SARS-CoV-2 virus,” The Daily Animals reported. “There are also some suggestions that the new subvariants have evolved to target the lungs – unlike Omicron, which usually resulted in a less dangerous upper respiratory tract infection.”

The Omicron variant has been shown to be more contagious than previous virus strains, but the symptoms are often far less severe. Researchers hope the same is true for the new sub-variants, and so far in the UK, where the variants have been found, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen.

“This may mean that higher transmissible variants, BA.4 or 5, are in play, [and] these variants are much less severe, ”Edwin Michael, an epidemiologist at the Center for Global Health Infectious Disease Research at the University of South Florida, told Beast.

Still, the new sub-variants seem to be able to sneak past antibodies that have been built up either via vaccines or have been infected with COVID.

“The grandchildren of the basic Omicron variant that first appeared in the fall of 2021, BA.4 and BA.5 both have a trio of large mutations to their tip protein, the part of the virus that helps it grab and infect our cells, ”reported the Beast. “Eric Bortz, a virologist from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and a public health expert, described BA.4 and BA.5 as ‘immunologically distinct pedigrees.’ In other words, they interact with our antibodies in surprisingly new ways.”

While COVID fatigue has certainly occurred throughout the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned last month that the pandemic “certainly is not over,” according to WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Although deaths from COVID have dropped sharply, the WHO chief said “we are lowering our guard on our danger.” according to to the UN.

“So, is COVID-19 over? No, it’s definitely not over. I know it’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” he said.

Ghebreyesus told officials gathered in Geneva for the opening of the WHO annual meeting that declining testing and sequencing means “we are blind to the evolution of the virus.” In addition, he said that even though billions have been vaccinated against the virus, nearly a billion people in lower-income countries are still not.

While about 60% of the world’s population is vaccinated, he said, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.” Ghebreyesus mentioned that “The reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions,” the UN reported. “And this in a world where testing frequency has dropped,” the WHO chief added.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as a White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the editor of Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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Javed Iqbal

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