BA.5 Omicron subvariant infection has become widespread in two months, constituting nearly 75-80% of the new cases in the country. They say it is one of the most contagious variants as it continues to add more positive results, hospital admissions, ICU admissions, etc. In one week, the US reported about 426 deaths and 127,700 confirmed cases daily, as per the New York Times. About 40 American states are witnessing the jump, including places in the West, South, and the Great Plains. The country has experienced a 19% increase in hospitalizations over two weeks. Interestingly, these figures don’t account for home testing. So you can imagine the actual infection cases to be higher.
As per the CDC’s July assessment of high-risk areas, nearly 35% of counties in the country belong to community risk levels. These places house about 55% of Americans. The health agencies recommend people wear masks in these areas while attending indoor events. However, there aren’t any strict mandates for these affected states. The residents seemed to bother less about the pandemic now, and even health officials are wary of signaling any warnings now.
Since this omicron subvariant dominates the peak summers in the US, it is worth gaining some deeper insights into BA.5. Let’s delve into it at once.
The origin of BA.5
There is limited information about how this new variant entered the country. The variant first appeared in the country in April end. Reports suggest that the first case of this infection, however, had occurred in South Africa. Johns Hopkins’ David Dowdy says this doesn’t mean America imported the disease from South Africa. Some data show that the Northeast region had recorded the first cases, and from there, the infection reached the Western, Midwestern, and Southern corners. Interestingly, it took two months for the virus to spread at its current speed, which forms approximately two-thirds of all the infections in the country.
They suffer from diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, cough, headache, and congestion. These conditions are similar to those caused by the earlier coronavirus variant. Texas Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Claire Bocchini informs that kids infected with the new variant complain of gastrointestinal symptoms. Cases of croup are also common among children. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition of barking cough caused by blocked upper airways is what defines croup. The healthcare experts ask parents to be more careful about kids, even though there haven’t been too many hospitalizations.
The effects of BA.5
The University of Florida College of Medicine’s Dr. Mobeen Rathore says that the impact of the virus can be pretty varied. Some people may not feel symptoms, while others can get sick for a few days or weeks. A typical case can have acute symptoms for one to two weeks, and hospitalized patients may have to deal with it longer. Extended stays at the hospital are also a familiar scene.
Risk of reinfection
Someone with a strong immunity can resist reinfection well. However, this protection doesn’t last for long. After two to four months, a person can again fall sick from this variant. Although it needs more research, health leaders say that the chance of contracting the infection again in the same month is unlikely.
There is also a belief that this variant will wane after a few months because the population would have built its immunity. But it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of some other omicron variant appearing and infecting the people. In this context, it is interesting to note that a recent poll by MyBioSource revealed that about two-thirds of Americans might have a disagreement over dealing with COVID if another pandemic happened.
Things to do if infected with BA.5
According to the CDC recommendations, positive people or those who develop COVID symptoms should quarantine themselves at home for about five days. They also need to maintain distance from other family members in the house. If there is no fever for one whole day and symptoms wane after five days, one can come out of isolation. However, they should still take precautions, including covering their mouth and nose with masks and not traveling. Wearing a properly fitting mask at home is also advisable when around others.
No doubt, increased immunity of the people has changed the risk of COVID infection. Hospitalizations and deaths are much less. Individuals are less vulnerable than before, but the spread risk is there. Mild cases can still disrupt everyday lives. Those unvaccinated and unboosted can also face the issue of long COVID, and they can still land in hospitals or die. Even today, the country is seeing 300 COVID deaths in one day. Hence, it is better to be safe than sorry. It doesn’t mean one cannot enjoy everyday activities. Of course, they can and should, but a bit of precaution can be a good thing.