COVID-19 subvariants can evade vaccine protection, giant snails pose health risks in Florida

Yahoo Finance healthcare reporter Anjalee Khemlani details the latest health news, including risks from the BA.5 and BA.4 COVID sub-variants and giant African snails spotted in Florida.

Video transcription

The latest ommicron subvariant, BA.5, is now responsible for more than half of all new cases in the US according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BA.5 and related subvariant BA.4 can evade protection against vaccines and previous infections. Anjalee Khemlani, senior reporter for Yahoo Finance, has the latest news. Anjalee?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That’s right, Brad. And for your point, that’s actually very important to point out that they don’t protect against previous infection. So anyone who does get infected can continue to get infected.

And that’s really the problem here. So we’re looking at BA.5 now, really worrying. Yes, it’s less deadly, and that’s really good news. But there’s still concern among virologists out there, especially when you look at those who study this infectious disease like Dr. Eric Topol, who was a guest on the show.

He’s the founder and director of the translation institute Scripps Research, and he recently wrote about how worrisome this is, noting that it’s the worst version of the virus we’ve seen yet. And that really makes a point because it really sets us up for the fall conversation. And there, of course, we saw that debate about which variant booster is needed to protect us in the coming months.

We also know that there is a minor threat from another sub-variant, BA.275, which is currently gaining a foothold in India. And that’s a concern that Dr. Topol is looking at, because all of these taken together really fall into that category of the concern that experts had in the beginning, which is that this virus will continue to mutate and continue to adapt and evolve to a point where we still need to focus on . And unlike previous variants, where once you were infected you had some protection over time, omicron proves that’s not the case. And that’s where a lot of concerns are now. Now what this means for the ongoing conversations about ventilation and making sure the air circulation is good and masking and continuing to do those things, really especially for the office conversations, this is where this all comes into play.

Absolute. [INAUDIBLE]†

Anjalee, you know, I never thought I’d ask you about giant snails, but here I’m asking you about giant snails because they actually roam the internet.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And that’s– Brian, I didn’t think I’d have to talk to you about them, but yeah. Currently, there is a giant African snail infestation in Newport Richey, Florida, in Pasco County. As a result, they have been quarantined in this area since June 25.

They have… the Florida Department of Agriculture says they really pose an agricultural threat, but they also pose a health risk because they can carry… basically they can infect you with meningitis. And so that’s a concern there. So that’s why it’s very alert for people in that area.

In principle, these huge snails can grow up to 20 centimeters in size. They multiply very quickly – 1200 eggs per year according to the Ministry of Agriculture. So really worry there.

They are illegal. So the question is, where do they come from? Probably the illegal pet trade, as we know, experts have said.

And sadly, this isn’t Florida’s first time fighting this. This is actually the third but the second in ten years. The last time it took 10 years to eradicate them, and the Department of Agriculture says it will probably take at least three years, if not more, to eradicate this current scourge.

That… wow. That is something. Okay, Anjalee Khemlani. Thank you.

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