COVID-19 subvariants spread more quickly, not as deadly, health experts say

Health experts are warning of the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 after research shows they're more contagious than any of the other previous variants. The latest information from the CDC shows both subvariants now account for the majority of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

According to the CDC, the subvariant known as BA.5 accounts for nearly 54 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The subvariant BA.4 makes up another 17 percent.

Some experts estimate the new omicron subvariants are three times less sensitive to antibodies from existing COVID-19 vaccines meaning they evade protection from shot and previous infections more than any of the other previous variants. 

"This is now one of the respiratory viruses that we're going to contend with year in and year out," Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Amesh Adalia said.

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While they're not as deadly as previous strains, they spread more quickly, which means with more people infected the chances of new mutations and variants popping up only increase. Experts say more infections mean a higher chance of people developing long-term COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing

FILE - A health worker tests passengers for the COVID-19.

The subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 were first discovered in South Africa back in April which shows it just took months for both to quickly spread now accounting for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

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Last week, the FDA recommended modifying the upcoming booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna to target BA.4 and BA.5 directly. The new shots are expected to be distributed sometime in October.

"We've got tools, we've got the knowledge, so we've got to find a way to be able to co-exist with this virus. Because so long as there are humans on this planet, there is going to be COVID-19 on this planet," Adalia said.