Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 task force, confirmed on Tuesday that the White House is monitoring “the rise of several subvariants” but the new booster shots should do a good job in protecting against them, Axios reported.
“We are carefully monitoring the rise of several subvariants that are evolving rapidly and emerging around the world, including ones that evade some of our treatments,” Jha said during a White House press briefing.
The variants that are being observed are related to the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2 or BA.5, which “means our updated bivalent vaccine should provide a much higher degree of protection,” Jha continued. “I'm very confident that our vaccines will continue to work very well, certainly against protecting against serious illness.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 11 million Americans have received the new boosters so far. Jha said that he is anticipating that more people will get inoculated this month before the start of the holiday season.
“If you are up to date with your vaccines and if you get treated if you have a breakthrough infection, your risk of dying from Covid is now close to zero,” said Jha, who told reporters last week that 70 percent of the people dying from Covid are seventy-five and older and don’t have the latest shots or aren’t getting necessary treatment.
“What happens in the weeks and months ahead will have a large impact on how the winter goes and really what happens this winter is largely up to us as the American people,” he added.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the CDC approved the use of updated boosters for children as young as five, CNN reported. Earlier in the day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the shots’ emergency use authorization to include the same age group.
“Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes Covid-19. Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of Covid-19, including hospitalization and death,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a release.
“While it has largely been the case that Covid-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of Covid-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized. Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease. We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible,” he concluded.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.