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White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha has urged Americans to consider their vaccination status and get a shot if they can, as breakthrough infections continue to rise across the country.
“We’re seeing high levels of reinfection,” Jha said during a pre-taped interview that aired on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re seeing people who are not up to date on their vaccines have a lot of breakthrough infections.”
Jha stressed that the country has developed the tools and infrastructure to provide Americans with vaccines and minimize impact from infection – as long as they stay up to date with their shots.
“Protection against serious illness is still preserved and that’s the good news,” he explained. “But we’re still seeing some protection against infection, but not as much. This is that immune evasive nature of this virus.”
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The COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5 took over as the dominant variant in the U.S. at the start of July, accounting for over 53% of cases nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Food and Drug Administration has advised vaccine makers to target the omicron subvariants when developing shots for release in the fall – even as experts warn that a new variant could arise in that time.
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“We’ve got to keep building new generations of vaccines,” Jha argued. “We’ve got to make sure we have adequate treatments. We can get through this, but not if we take our eye off our ball.”
“We’ve got to really stay focused,” he continued. “And we are and we’re staying focused on managing this.”
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He continued to urge Americans to get a booster shot if they have not received one this year.
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is on the rise in 110 countries, with a 20% spike overall that is being driven by BA.4 and BA.5.
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Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 88 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus and there have been over a million deaths due to the virus.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.