There’s a New COVID Variant on the CDC’s Radar: Here’s What We Know

The BA.4.6 subvariant of COVID-19 is the most recent “variant of concern”.

It is present in at least four states that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is BA.4.6?

BA.4.6. is a derivative of the BA.4 subvariant of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. It had been “circulating for several weeks” in the United States before the CDC officially began tracking it, according to Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 Data Director.

Where a BA.4.6. spread?

The new subvariant has spread to the Midwestern states of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, where it accounts for 10.7% of cases in the region.

The Mid-Atlantic region and the South are also seeing BA.4.6 cases exceed the average.

According to the CDC, the total number of BA.4.6 cases was 4.1% of the national average for COVID-19 cases.

The new subvariant has also been detected in 43 countries, according to epidemic.info, which compiles information on COVID-19.

Do vaccines work against BA.4.6?

At this time, experts don’t know if the vaccines will work against this particular subvariant of COVID-19. Many new variants, like BA.4.6, emerge faster than new vaccines are made.

However, according to the CDC, all approved or licensed COVID-19 vaccines have been effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death from previous variants and subvariants of the virus. “In addition to clinical trial data, evidence from real-world vaccine effectiveness studies shows that COVID-19 vaccines help protect against COVID-19 infections, with or without symptoms (asymptomatic infections)” , the CDC said.

Last Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was looking to approve boosters targeting omicron’s BA.5 subvariant by this fall. It was a pivotal part of his plan to raise the age of eligibility for boosters based on the original 2020 COVID-19 strain.

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Katherine Rodriguez can be reached at krodriguez@njadvancemedia.com. Do you have any advice? Tell us at nj.com/tips.

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