If you thought COVID was over, think again. Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the latest version of Omicron and according to experts, it is the most easily transmissible COVID variant to date, able to evade previous immunity from COVID infection and vaccination.
In fact, some epidemiologists think there could be as many as 1 million new cases a day. BA.5 is “the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen”, according to one expert.
How BA.5 is spreading
As of July 2, the subvariant BA.5 was responsible for nearly 54% of COVID cases in the U.S. BA.4, a similar subvariant, accounted for nearly 17% more, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The variant has already gained ground in China raising fears that they will have to reenter lockdown just after strict restrictions were lifted following the nation’s last major wave of cases.
In Shanghai, the BA.5 variant has been detected and Shanghai officials have begun testing residents and locking down high-and medium-risk streets, according to the Washington Post.
“The main reason this variant has become the predominant one that is now circulating is that it is able to evade previous immunity,” says Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “Even people who have partial immunity from a previous infection or vaccination can still have a breakthrough infection.”
If you previously had Delta or Omicron, your immunity will not be enough to protect you from the latest strain.
This means you can get reinfected with BA.5 several times. This can have damaging effects on your health. According to new research, your risk for complications including stroke, heart attack, diabetes, digestive and kidney disorders and long-term cognitive impairment, including dementia increases with each COVID infection even if you are asymptomatic.
Getting infected multiple times also increases your risk of developing long COVID, a syndrome with ongoing COVID symptoms that can last for weeks or months after infection.
What are the symptoms?
So what are the symptoms of this latest strain and do they differ from the other variants?
According to reports, the symptoms of BA.5 are similar to previous COVID variants. They include fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, headaches, muscle pain and fatigue.
Even though they spread quicker than any others, BA.4 and BA.5 haven’t been found to cause more