BA.5 Omicron Variant Makes up more than 80% of COVID-19 Cases Just This Month
By Valeria Ruiz
The COVID-19 omicron variation is constantly evolving, resulting in more contagious variants. The majority of COVID-19 cases currently occurring in the US are caused by BA.5, which appears to be the most contagious variant to date.
People who have had COVID-19, including earlier iterations of omicron, are becoming reinfected with BA.5 more frequently. It also circumvents vaccination immunity.
The best thing people can do to protect themselves is to stay up to date on their COVID-19 immunizations.
According to Indiana's COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 1,723 active cases of COVID-19 in the state just this week. Those numbers don't include cases confirmed with at-home tests that were not reported. Clearly, cases of COVID-19 have once again started rising in the U.S., and that’s due to the subvariant that has shown to evade 80% of people’s immunity just this week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.5 seems to be the most contagious variant to date. The BA.5 subvariant is raising worries among doctors for a number of reasons, the most significant of which is that it appears to be more effective than earlier variants at evading the immunity brought on by infections and immunizations.
Why it matters?
Ba.5 is causing reinfection to those who’ve already had COVID-19, which may include earlier variants of omicron. It’s also evading immunity from the vaccines. A recent study published by Nature stated that Ba.5 has become more resistant to messenger RNA vaccines, like Moderna and Pfizer, than the other omicron variants.
This may be the cause of the latest increase in COVID-19 cases and in hospital admissions. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the incidence of new hospitalizations has doubled since early May.
What are the symptoms?
For now, there aren’t any different symptoms compared to other omicron variants. Recently, the symptoms resemble cold symptoms, like fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, etc. But a new symptom people have reported with omicron is back pain. The loss of taste and smell has become less common with omicron.
Will at-home tests detect BA.5?
The nucleocapsid, a portion of the COVID-19 virus protein that varies little between variants, is typically used in quick home tests. There’s no reason why stated that at-home tests are less effective against BA.5 compared to the other variants. But if any symptoms show and the at-home test appears negative, it’s best to have a PCR test done,
Is Ba.5 that severe? Will COVID-19 treatments still work?
BA.5 causes people to have prolonged COVID symptoms and higher risks for complications.
Dr. Eric Topol speculated in his research,from the Kirby Institute in Australia, that BA.5's capacity to infect cells may resemble the delta variant of omicron. He also claims that BA.5 modifications may help to explain reports of people testing negative more slowly than they did for earlier omicron sub variants.
The present vaccines and boosters are still anticipated to offer protection against serious illness and demise. Boosters have significantly decreased the risk of death from COVID-19 and have been especially useful for protecting older adults and other people more susceptible to severe disease at the age of omicron. According to Fauci, COVID-19 can still be effectively treated in patients at higher risk of developing severe illness using Paxlovid, an antiviral drug.
In an effort to target the most relevant strain of virus causing COVID-19, vaccines based on the BA.5 subvariant (along with BA.4) will be the first choice for COVID-19 booster shots this fall. Response Team Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha encouraged everyone to get a booster if they're eligible and haven't opted for one yet, because it won't affect their ability to get vaccinated come fall or winter when new boosters start rolling out to Americans.