A new COVID-19 subvariant, BA.5, is now the dominant strain in Maryland and across the United States.
According to the CDC, BA.5 accounted for 53.6% of all cases during the week ending on July 2nd. For this same time period, BA.5 accounted for 41.4% of all cases in region 3, to which Maryland belongs. As the Baltimore Sun and New York Times report, the new subvariant is of particular concern because of its transmissibility and ability to evade immune response in vaccinated individuals.
Both outlets also report that evidence does not suggest the new subvariant is more severe than previous iterations of Omicron. Andrew Pekosz, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided a quote to the Sun describing BA.5’s modified structure and ability to infect vaccinated and previously-infected individuals as a result:
“What that means is there is a smaller hill for the virus to get over,” said [Professor Pekosz]. “We’re going to see a lot of infections and reinfections.”
As of July 11th, the Maryland Department of Health reported that 553 residents had been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Moreover, the state’s 7-day positivity rate reached 9.76%, a significant increase from the lows reached in March of just over 1%.