Jul 15, 2022 - Health

Jha: BA.5 is the "most immune evasive" variant yet

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House on June 2. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Friday that the BA.5 subvariant is the "most contagious, certainly the most immune evasive variant we've seen" in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

Driving the news: "If you were infected earlier this year, you're still at very high risk of reinfection, it means if you have not been vaccinated recently, you have a very high risk of having a breakthrough," Jha said Friday.

  • Jha also said that he expects the CDC and FDA to make an announcement "reasonably soon" about whether Americans under 50 can receive second boosters.

Between the lines: Jha's remarks come as health officials are urging eligible people — those over 50 and immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and up — to get booster shots now instead of waiting for the fall, Axios’ Oriana Gonzalez reports.

  • Yes, but: Some health experts question whether it’s wise to give frequent booster doses to the general population, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim reports.

State of play: Jha also addressed the surging demand for monkey pox vaccines as cases continue to rise. "We're working 24/7 to make sure that every American who needs a vaccine gets one," Jha said.

  • "In the days and weeks ahead, you're going to see vaccine availability become far more widespread," he added.

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