Citing the fast-spreading omicron BA.5 subvariant coronavirus that now makes up the majority of U.S. cases, the White House said Tuesday it will ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, treatments and tests to combat the illness.
“Currently, many Americans are unvaccinated, which means they are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news conference. on Tuesday. “Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations provides the best protection against serious outcomes.”
The subvariant, which the CDC says accounted for 65% of the variants circulating in the United States as of last week, could spread more easily despite vaccination or natural immunity. US President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at the same briefing, said the subvariant does not cause more severe illness or hospitalizations compared to other subvariants.
“Variants will continue to emerge. The virus circulates globally and in this country. We must not allow it to disrupt our lives, but we cannot deny that it is a reality that we have to deal with,” Fauci said. The White House says it will focus on boosters, home testing, the availability of good masks, and support for people who are immunocompromised.
“We can prevent serious illness; we can keep people out of the hospital and especially out of the ICU. We can save lives and we can minimize the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Even in the face of BA.5, the tools have continued to work,” he said. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator.
“We are at a point in the pandemic where most deaths from COVID-19 are preventable,” he said.
Some of the information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.