A new dominant omicron strain in the U.S. is driving up cases — and reinfections

For much of the pandemic, the only silver lining to coming down with a case of COVID-19 was that you likely wouldn't catch it again for a while (though there isn't exactly a definitive answer on how long that period immunity typically lasts).

Increasingly, however, more people appear to be contracting the virus multiple times in relatively quick succession, as another omicron subvariant sweeps through the U.S.

The BA.5 variant is now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it's hard to get an exact count — given how many people are taking rapid tests at home — there are indications that both reinfections and hospitalizations are increasing.

For example: Some 31,000 people across the U.S. are currently hospitalized with the virus, with admissions up 4.5% compared to a week ago. And data from New York state shows that reinfections started trending upwards again in late June.

So far there is no evidence that this variant causes more serious illness. And infectious disease experts say that even though new infections are on the rise, the impact of BA.5 is unlikely to be on the scale of the surge we saw last winter — in part because the country is better equipped to manage it.

Monday, July 11, 2022 - 12:39pm