While the COVID-19 pandemic showed signs of slowing down in the US earlier this year, the graph is beginning to rise everywhere following the discovery of the BA. 5 variant. Millions of people in the US have already been vaccinated, some of whom have already received their booster shots. However, according to the Chief Medical Advisor on COVID-19 to President Joe Biden, Dr Anthony Fauci, nobody is out of danger.

In a conversation with CNN’s John Berman, Dr Fauci revealed that the newly discovered BA. 5 variant is of great concern to him and the time requires everyone to wear a mask indoors once again for a number of reasons.

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Answering a question regarding the ‘most concerning part’ of the new subvariant, Dr Fauci stated that BA. 5 has an advantage over the prior variants. According to him, compared to the previous variants, the BA. 5 can evade immune responses more easily and it’s why the country is reporting more cases than before.

“Well it has what we call a transmission advantage over prior variants. You know, we have gone through BA.1, BA.2, different numbers — BA.2.1, now we have BA.5, which  (is) clearly because (of) its ability to evade immune response from the vaccine or from people who have been previously infected,” Dr Fauci said. 

“The ability to affect an individual is enhanced over prior variants and that’s the reason why you are seeing us reporting 104,000 cases a day,” he added. 

The medical practitioner, however, cautioned by saying that the reported numbers are most likely underestimated and are not portraying the original scenario.

“It’s likely a gross underestimate, because so many people get tested with home kits and don’t report it. So we’re probably seeing a multi-fold greater number than that,” he added.

“Hospitalisations are ticking up so this is something you don’t want to panic about. You really need to pay attention because there are things that we can do to blunt that. We don’t have as many people vaccinated as we need, only 67% of the population, only half of those are boostered. We need to be using the mitigations that are available. Masking where appropriate, vaccinating people who aren’t vaccinating and boosting people who are ready and eligible for their boost. We can do that but we are not doing it to the extent that we should be doing it,” he elaborated.

The doctor was also asked to explain how quickly a person can be reinfected and he had a clear answer for it.

“It really varies. Usually, immediately after you have been infected within a period of weeks to a month,” he clarified.

“Most of the time, the protection lasts for a few months. But if somebody was infected several months ago, particularly if they were infected with Omicron, the protection that’s given to you against BA.5, wanes and diminishes pretty rapidly over a period of several months,” the 81-year-old revealed.

The physician also elucidated whether a person is safe and can muster up the immunity to fight against BA.5  without a vaccine dose in 2022.

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“Considerably,” he remarked while speaking on how much a person’s immunity wanes without a vaccine dose in 2022. 

“Immunity against infections wanes pretty quickly and it goes way, way down,” he stated before adding, “Most people who have not received a booster this year, have a diminished immunity.”

Dr Fauci also urged Americans to begin wearing masks indoors once again, saying, “You really should, in an indoor setting, be wearing a mask.”

“When you’re in an area where the infection dynamic is high, you should wear a mask in a congregated indoor setting,” he concluded.