National numbers, July 3

BA.4 and BA.5 are now the dominant coronavirus lineages in the U.S., and they’re reviving our recent surge: from the plateau of recent weeks, national COVID-19 cases are clearly going up again. Reported cases rose 11% last week from the week prior. And, as always, this number is a significant undercount of true infections.

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FAQ: BA.4 and BA.5, potentially the most transmissible Omicron subvariants yet

America’s current COVID-19 surge is being driven by BA.2 and its sublineage BA.2.12.1. But there are other versions of Omicron out there to which we need to pay attention—namely, BA.4 and BA.5. Here’s a brief FAQ on these two subvariants, including why scientists are concerned about them and where they’re spreading in the U.S.

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How one wastewater plant became a leading COVID-19 forecasting source

This week, I had a new story published with FiveThirtyEight and the Documenting COVID-19 project about the data and implementation challenges of wastewater surveillance. As bonus material in today’s COVID-19 Data Dispatch, I wanted to share one of the interviews I did for the story, which provides a good case study of the benefits and challenges of COVID-19 surveillance in wastewater.

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Omicron keeps mutating as U.S. cases rise

As though it’s not already confusing enough to distinguish between Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, more sublineages have popped up in recent weeks as Omicron continues to spread and mutate. Here are two that I’m watching, though they don’t seem to be major causes for concern at this time.

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The US still doesn’t have the data we need to make informed decisions on booster shots

Last fall, I wrote that the U.S. did not have the data we needed to make informed decisions about booster shots. Several months later, we still don’t have the data we need, as questions about a potential BA.2 wave and other future variants abound. Discussions at a recent FDA advisory committee meeting made these data gaps clear.

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