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BA.5 should not change how Americans think about living with covid

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A new variant of the coronavirus, even more contagious than previous strains, is now dominant in the United States. But rising cases should not prompt calls for most Americans to hunker down or policymakers to reimpose restrictions. Instead, the rapid spread of the BA.5 omicron subvariant is a window into what the future with this coronavirus looks like.

We’ve seen this pattern before. The original omicron variant was more contagious than the delta variant before it and quickly became dominant last winter. There was a brief lull, after which that strain was replaced by a more contagious subvariant, BA.2. Infections caused by BA.2 have started decreasing, just in time for subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 to take over.

BA.5 now constitutes 65 percent of all infections in the United States. This should not be surprising. New variants are cropping up all the time, with more contagious strains displacing previous ones.

Lulls followed by surges are the new normal. Instead of reacting with alarm, health officials should set the expectation that as long as hospitals are not overwhelmed and vaccines still work to prevent severe illness, policies should focus on minimizing disruption to daily life.

Virologist and pediatrician Paul Offit........

© Washington Post

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