Omicron Subvariant Dominant in US, Booster for J&J Recipients, Booster for US Over 50s, UK Death Toll, More

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BA.2 subvariant now dominant strain in US: CDC 

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A subvariant of omicron known as BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the U.S., according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The variant has been steadily rising in proportion because of its increased transmissibility compared to the original omicron strain, and it represented 54.9 percent of new cases for the week ending March 26, according to CDC data. That is up from about 27 percent two weeks earlier.

The BA.2 subvariant is thought to be about 30 percent more transmissible than the original BA.1 omicron strain, which itself was already more contagious than earlier versions of the virus.

But don’t panic: Importantly, though, experts say there is no evidence that BA.2 causes more severe disease than the original omicron strain or that it evades the protection from vaccines to a greater degree.

The subvariant may cause some increase in cases after weeks of steady declines that have led to a relative lull in the virus. But it is unclear how sharp the increase will be, and people who are vaccinated and boosted are still well-protected against severe disease.

© Greg Nash, The Hill

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be expanding its vaccination policy at the southwestern U.S.-Mexico border, requiring some migrants who are taken into custody to get immunized against COVID-19.

“The effort to vaccinate those in our care and custody, which is a public health best practice, has been ongoing for many months,” a spokesperson for the department told The Hill in a statement.

“DHS has been providing the COVID-19 vaccines to noncitizens in ICE custody since summer 2021,” they added. “In order to further safeguard public health and ensure the safety of border communities, the workforce, and migrants, DHS is now expanding these efforts and requiring that noncitizens taken into CBP custody for further immigration processing at the Southwest land border be given age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccines.”OM


FDA Authorizes second booster shot for those 50+ 

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light on Tuesday to a second coronavirus vaccine booster shot for people aged 50 and older in an effort to ward off another potential spike in infections due to a subvariant of omicron.

The agency said anyone aged 50 and older can get a second booster dose of an mRNA vaccine at least four months after the first booster, regardless of which vaccine was administered the first time.

FDA granted emergency use authorization to the vaccines from Pfizer as well as Moderna. Pfizer had initially requested authorization for people aged 65 and older, while Moderna requested broader authorization for all adults.

Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccine division, told reporters Tuesday the agency went with the lower age limit because those people are most likely to have medical conditions that put them at high risk of serious outcomes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky updated the agency’s guidance to match FDA’s action, though the agency stopped short of making a full recommendation. The CDC said anyone aged 50 and older who wants a second booster is now able to get one.


UK Death toll could be over 186,000

When looking at the overall death toll from coronavirus, official figures count deaths in three different ways, each giving a slightly different number.

First, government figures – the ones reported each weekday – count people who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus. This figure is more than 164,000

According to the latest ONS figures, the UK has now seen more than 186,000 deaths in total – that’s all those deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate even if the person had not been tested for the virus.



Coronavirus Cases:





Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)
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