National numbers, June 12

As I predicted last week, the brief dip in reported COVID-19 cases was a result of the Memorial Day holiday, not an actual signal of the BA.2/BA.2.12.1 wave reaching its peak. National case counts are up again this week, with the country still reporting over 100,000 new cases a day. And remember, the true infection rate could be five or more times higher, thanks to under-testing.

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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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National numbers, May 8

New COVID-19 cases are still rising in the U.S., as the country continues to face the Omicron subvariant BA.2 and its offshoots. While at levels much lower than what we saw in December and January, daily new cases have more than doubled in the last month.

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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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A BA.2 surge is approaching: Here’s what you should know about this variant

Europe’s new surge is likely due to European leaders’ decisions to end all COVID-19 safety measures in their countries, combined with the rise of Omicron sublineage BA.2. As BA.2 prevalence increases here in the U.S.—and our leaders also end safety measures—we seem poised to follow in Europe’s footsteps once again. But a BA.2 surge is likely to look different from the intense Omicron surge that we experienced in December and January, in part because of leftover immunity from that Omicron surge.

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