New Omicron subvariants are growing in the US and the FDA panel supports the Novavax vaccine

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are spreading rapidly, raising concerns they may overtake others, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention around in the US

Data published Tuesday show that BA.4 and BA.5 now account for 13% of new cases in the US, nearly doubling from 7.5% a week ago and just 1% in early May.

The subvariant BA.2.12.1 currently dominates with 62.2% of all cases, followed by BA.2 with 24.8%. But BA.4 and BA.5 could spread quickly and overtake the others, according to Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy. speaking to the New York Times.

The two were behind a spike in cases in South Africa in April and May, but the spike hasn’t resulted in as many deaths as previous ones, raising hopes they’re not as serious as others, although more study is needed.

See now: COVID patients with weakened immune systems should be treated as a matter of priority to avoid the emergence of new variants, experts say

Novavax shares NVAX,
surged after an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted in favor of its COVID-19 vaccine, a protein-based vaccine made using more conventional technology than the others approved.

Novavax syringes are already being used in Australia, Canada, parts of Europe and dozens of other countries, the Associated Press reported. But US clearance is a key hurdle for the Maryland-based company.

FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said another available vaccine in the US could at least tempt some holdouts – for whatever reason – to roll up their sleeves.

If approved, American adults could choose from four vaccines, the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer PFE,
with German partner BioNTech BNTX,
and by Moderna and JNJ by Johnson & Johnson,
viral vector vaccine.

The news comes as there are an average of 112,771 cases per day in the US. according to a New York Times tracker, 4% more than two weeks ago. The case numbers are expected to be too low as many people are now testing at home and the data is not being collected.

The country is seeing an average of 28,944 hospital admissions per day, up 12% from two weeks ago. The daily death toll has fallen to an average of 326, down 2% from two weeks ago.

If you’ve had Covid before, then why can you get it again? WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains what the possibility of reinfection means for the future of public health policy and the Covid-19 pandemic. Illustration: David Fang

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting on the latest developments every weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• The Vietnamese health minister and the mayor of the capital Hanoi have been arrested amid a widening investigation into the massive price-gouging of COVID-19 tests. The AP reported, citing state media. Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his ministerial post and Chu Ngoc Anh, who was previously science minister, was dismissed as mayor of Hanoi, online news agency Tuoi Tre reported on Tuesday. According to the Ministry of Public Security, they are being investigated for abuse of power and have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party.

• Moderna said its experimental bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, targeting the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant, elicited a stronger antibody response than its original COVID-19 booster one month after administration. The preliminary data from the phase 2/3 study with 437 participants were published in a press release. Moderna plans to submit the clinical data to US regulators, and then aims to have that vaccine available in late summer, if approved. The company also said it plans to share additional data on the response of the bivalent vaccine candidate at 91 days post-vaccination in the coming months.

See: Moderna’s next-generation COVID-19 vaccine offers “superior” protection against Omicron

• The Biden administration is shifting dwindling federal coronavirus funds to securing another round of vaccines and treatments — rationing funds and cutting other critical public health programs as Congress remains divided over whether to spend more on the to fight the pandemic, the Washington Post reported. citing an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The government plans to divert about $5 billion in existing funds so it can purchase any new, updated version of the vaccine as one becomes available, the official said.

• The Chinese government is concerned that the wind will blow COVID from North Korea, Bloomberg News reports. Officials in the city of Dandong, on the border with North Korea, are encouraging residents to keep their windows closed as cases surge, despite being in lockdown since late April. There is no clear scientific evidence to support the theory.

Shanghai residents took selfies outside and toasted champagne as the city emerged from more than two months of Covid-19 lockdown. But economic challenges lie ahead as China shows no signs of easing its zero-Covid strategy. Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 533.2 million on Monday, while the death toll rose to over 6.3 million. based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 85 million cases and 1,009,557 deaths.

That Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 221.6 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 66.7% of the total population. But only 104 million received a first booster shot, representing 46.9% of the vaccinated population.

Only 14.9 million of those aged 50 and over who were eligible for a second booster shot received one, which is 23.7% of those who received a first booster shot. New Omicron subvariants are growing in the US and the FDA panel supports the Novavax vaccine

Brian Lowry

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