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Omicron variants BA.4 and BA. 5 cause surge in deaths and cases in Portugal

After a fifth COVID-19 wave, driven by the new omicron variants, burned through South Africa, the infections are now spreading in Portugal

SHARE Omicron variants BA.4 and BA. 5 cause surge in deaths and cases in Portugal

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

The new omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, are driving a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Portugal.

Driving the news: In Portugal on Wednesday, more than 26,000 new cases and 47 COVID-19 deaths were recorded — the highest number of deaths since February, when 51 people died, per The Guardian. This wave, which began in April, is responsible for 1,455 deaths.

What they’re saying? In a recent report, Ricardo Jorge, of the Public Health Institute, said that the new variants account for 90% of new infections, even though most of the population of Portugal is vaccinated, per Reuters.

  • “Portugal is probably the European country with the highest prevalence of this sub-lineage and this partly explains the high number (of cases) we are seeing,” Health Minister Marta Temido said.

In the U.S.: The subvariants currently make up 6% to 7% of new infections, as I reported for the Deseret News.

Yes, but: The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the new COVID-19 vaccine design that works against these newer variants that evade antibodies.

Worth noting: South Africa went through a similar COVID-19 wave, even though 97% of the population had antibodies from vaccination or previous infection.