What are symptoms for BA.5, BA.4 COVID-19 variants?

Amid return of summer travel, two variants are causing spikes in COVID-19 cases.

WASHINGTON — As Americans accelerate their summer trips without their masks, two COVID-19 subvariants are causing a surge in cases.

BA.5, which accounts for 65% of cases, and BA.4, which accounts for 16% of cases, are omicron’s smarter cousins. The two sub-variants bypass antibodies and even vaccine protection as they are one of the most contagious versions of the virus to date.

“It knows how to trick our immune system,” said TEGNA’s medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli.

Since the subvariants are derived from the original Omicron variant, the symptoms fall under the same umbrella. However, symptoms still vary based on vaccination status, age, previous infection, medication use and other factors, Kohli said.

Data collected by the Zoe app in the UK shows most symptoms are similar to a cold, with a sore throat and runny nose. Kohli said a significant change in symptoms for the subvariants is increased amounts of sneezing, something not seen in previous forms of the COVID-19 variant.

“Interestingly, we’re also now seeing anecdotally that there may be a slightly higher degree of taste and smell loss,” Kohli said.

Without many of the “classic” COVID-19 symptoms like muscle aches, high fevers and chills, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell if you have COVID or simple allergies.

Consistent testing is the best way to confirm if your symptoms are really COVID-19, according to Kohli. For those who are vaccinated, things can get a bit more complicated as the immune system can cause a false negative result on home tests in the early days of infection.

The subvariants responsible for the recent surge pose a different threat as they also have higher rates of reinfection.

“Even if you recently had an infection with Omicron or had what is known as hybrid immunity, which is infection plus vaccination, which was considered the highest level of protection, we see a higher rate of reinfection in these individuals as well,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration urged Americans to get their booster shots to protect themselves from the new subvariants.

With Novavax, a more traditional FDA-approved protein-based vaccine, and a COVID-19 pill, Americans now have more resources than ever to protect themselves during another surge. However, nearly a quarter of Americans have yet to get their COVID-19 shot.

“Although the vaccines and booster vaccines that we currently have on the market are really designed for the original Wuhan strain and not so much for the sub-variants, we see that the vaccines that keep you out have a high level of effectiveness of the hospital,” said Kohli.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the most common symptoms for COVID-19:

  • fever or chills
  • Cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body pain
  • headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/what-to-know-about-ba5-ba4-variant/507-ac88576c-f99b-4125-9199-9616e9cbd71a What are symptoms for BA.5, BA.4 COVID-19 variants?

Alley Einstein

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