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COVID vaccines can't keep up with new Omicron subvariants

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the air.

New subvariants of the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus "appear to be even more immune-resistant than the original," Axios reported Wednesday.

The original Omicron strain was known as BA.1, but that's old hat by now. All the cool kids are getting BA.4, or even BA.5. Unfortunately, while the virus has moved on, vaccine makers are stuck in the past.

Per Axios, "[c]linical trials are underway to study tweaked versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines" designed to tackle O.G. Omicron, but by the time they're ready — this fall at the earliest — it might be too late.

"[I]t's really unclear that it's going to be much of an improvement versus the original vaccine when BA.4 and BA.5 are so significantly different than the original Omicron," said infectious disease specialist Celine Grounder.

Axios also notes that although the new Omicron subvariants are more likely to cause breakthrough infections — even among those who've already had BA.1 — that's no reason to skip the jab. Three doses of the existing vaccine still provide effective protection against hospitalization and death.