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As Covid surges in the US, health officials say vaccines remain key – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

With Covid hospitalizations doubling in recent months, US health officials Tuesday reiterated the need for vaccine vigilance to combat the pandemic, even as vaccine immunity to new Omicron subvariants remains unclear.

The United States is seeing around 5,100 coronavirus-related hospitalizations daily, “a doubling in hospitalizations since early May,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a news conference.

The spike is related to the meteoric rise of Omicron variant sublineages BA.4 and BA.5, which were first detected in April and account for 16 percent and 65 percent, respectively, of the virus currently circulating in the United States.

While they don’t appear to be more serious than previous variants, “we know they’re more transmissible and immune-avoidant,” Walensky said, though she added that the effectiveness of vaccination and booster shots against serious illness and death likely remains high in the new variants.

“So staying up to date on your Covid-19 vaccines offers the best protection against serious consequences,” she said.

Despite the rise in cases, the new variants shouldn’t cause panic or “interfere with our lives,” President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said at the briefing.

While daily tolls have fallen significantly since the crisis peaked more than a year ago, the United States is still seeing 300 to 350 deaths per day, an “unacceptable” number, Fauci said.

The country is seeing between 100,000 and 150,000 new reported cases every day, but the number could be a serious underestimate due to the increasing use of home Covid tests, the results of which are often not reported to authorities.

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