Jul 11, 2022 - COVID

Arkansas health officials warn of COVID-19 variant

Illustration of a COVID virus cell being overshadowed by a significantly larger COVID virus cell.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new COVID-19 variant, BA.5, is now the dominant strain in the U.S., Axios' Tina Reed writes.

Why it matters: The variant is the most transmissible to date.

  • Extra mutations in the spike protein make the strain three or four times more resistant to antibodies, though it doesn't appear to cause more serious illness.

What they're saying: "We anticipate that when school starts, we will see increased transmission of this particular variant, and for that reason it is going to be very important for people to start their vaccination process now if they have not been vaccinated yet, especially for adolescents and children," Jennifer Dillaha, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said last week during a call with reporters.

Be smart: Children as young as 6 months old are eligible to get vaccinated.

By the numbers: The state reported 273 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 11,283 active cases on July 5, an increase from 211 hospitalizations and 10,183 active cases one week earlier.

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