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COVID-19 subvariants may evade vaccine protection, giant snails pose health risk in Florida

Yahoo Finance's health care reporter Anjalee Khemlani breaks down the latest health news, including risks from the BA.5 and BA.4 COVID subvariants and giant African snails that have been spotted in Florida.

Video transcript

- The latest omicron sub variant, BA.5, now accounts 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 sub variant BA.4 can evade protection from vaccines and prior infections. Yahoo Finance's senior reporter Anjalee Khemlani has the latest. Anjalee?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Brad. And to your point, that's actually really important to point out is that they do not protect against prior infection. So anyone who does get infected will-- can continue to get infected.

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

He is the founder and director of Scripps Research translational Institute, and he recently wrote about how much of a concern this is, noting that it is the worst version of the virus that we've seen so far. And that is really putting a point on it because it really sets us up for the conversation about fall. And that is where we've, of course, seen that debate over which variant booster is necessary to protect us in the coming months.

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

- Absolutely. [INAUDIBLE].

- Anjalee, you know, I never thought I'd be asking you about giant snails, but here I am asking you about giant snails because they are actually sweeping across the internet.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And that is-- Brian, I didn't think I was going to have to talk to you about them, but yes. Currently, giant African snail infestation in Newport Richey, Florida, which is in Pasco County. They've been under quarantine as a result in this area since June 25.

They have-- the Florida Department of Agriculture says that they are really 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 really high alert for individuals in that area.

These huge snails basically can grow up to 8 inches. They multiply really fast-- 1,200 eggs in a year according to the Department of Agriculture. So really a lot of concern there.

They are illegal, though. And so the question is, where did they come from? Probably the illegal pet trade, as we know, experts have said.

And this is not the first time, unfortunately, that Florida is battling this. This is actually the third but the second in a decade. The last time, it took them 10 years to eradicate them, and the Department of Agriculture are saying that it's likely to take at least three years, if not more, to eradicate this current infestation.

- That-- wow. That is something. All right, Anjalee Khemlani. Thanks so much.

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