COVID Vaccine to be updated to target BA.5, UVA Health says current vaccine is still effective

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 4:03 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The BA.5 COVID-19 variant is currently the most dominant strain, but UVA Health says the original vaccine is still doing its part in keeping people safe.

The first COVID-19 vaccines targeted the original strain. Now, drug companies are working to update this to the more dominant BA.5 variant.

“This should be very familiar to us. It is very similar in approach to what is done for the flu vaccine, where the flu vaccine is actually targeting three or four different strains of flu at any given time,” said Doctor Costi Sifri. “Ideally, what we will see is an original vaccine targeted to the original COVID-19 strain with an updated target to BA.5 Omicron as well.”

Still, UVA Health says anyone who is vaccinated will do better fighting any variant of the virus.

“When people come in to the hospital, they sometimes are asymptomatic. This even includes people that were at high risk for COVID because of age or comorbidities. The vaccines are doing their job of keeping people out of the hospital from COVID,” Dr. Sifri said.

Dr. Sifri’s only concern is if the dominant variant will change in the next few months.

“The current question is whether or not BA.5 will be the COVID variant that we’ll see circulating into the fall or winter,” he said.

He says that even if it changes, an updated vaccine should cover variants within the Omicron family.

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