A couple of new COVID-19 subvariants have some Massachusetts health specialists worried that a "new wave" could impact the Bay State this summer, resulting in the return of masks, at least indoors.

The Boston Herald's Rick Sobey reported that "Two omicron subvariants are on the rise across the region, and new evidence about the highly contagious COVID strains means they could spark 'a new wave' of COVID this summer."

https://www.bostonherald.com/2022/06/29/ba-4-ba-5-variants-could-spark-new-wave-of-covid-this-summer-massachusetts-reports-1529-new-cases/
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"BA.4, BA.5 Subvariants Now Account for 25% of All COVID Cases In New England," shouts a headline on NBC 10 Boston's website. The station reported the subvariants account for 35 percent of all cases nationally.

The Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy & Research (CEID) at Boston University reprinted a portion of Sobey's article on the school's website.

Boston Doctor: New COVID Variants Could Bring Back Masks
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Dr. David Hamer, a faculty member of the CEID, said that "It appears that the variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5 are more transmissible and evade the immune response from prior omicron strains – making natural immunity from past infection of vaccine-induced immunity less effective."

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NBC 10 Boston spoke with several experts in the field, and none could say with any certainty whether New England will see an appreciable uptick in COVID this summer or whether the subvariants will defy the vaccines and booster shots that most Massachusetts residents have received.

The Boston Globe has also sounded the alarm about BA.4 and BA.5 with a "here's what you need to know" piece.

Sobey quoted Matthew Fox, a Boston University School of Public Health epidemiologist, who says Massachusetts residents should be "prepared to take action," including "reducing contacts and increasing masking indoors."

Could this mean a return to mask mandates in Massachusetts schools this fall?

Keep an eye out, but don't panic. We've been there, done that.

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