The newest COVID-19 variants, omicron 4 and 5, are as infectious as measles.
This is according to local infectious disease specialist Dr. Mohammad Reza, who said that the new omicron variants are the most contagious yet.
When COVID first burst onto the global scene in late 2019 and early 2020, it wasn’t ultra-transmissible. Reza stated that the initial Wuhan strain only had a reproductive rate of around 3.3, meaning that one carrier (or infected person) can only infect three other people on average.
However, the recent variants are significantly more contagious. A new study published in medRxiv suggests that they have a reproductive rate of around 18.6, surpassing measles, the world’s most infectious viral disease.
“The sub-variant 5 has been dubbed to be about 18.6. Measles is known as the most contagious virus to humans, that’s 18,” Reza added.
However, the doctor sees a silver lining in the situation at hand. While there is a warning that one person can get the virus multiple times, scientists still haven’t seen a recent spike in hospitalization cases.
“The vaccine will still protect you against severe infection and hospitalization, but you can still get infected and still get pretty sick,” said Reza, adding that COVID-19 is one of the most infectious diseases for human beings.
He recommended avoiding large indoor crowds, saying it’s an effective preventative measure.
He added that while many people have already “checked out” mentally on the virus, it’s a virus that doesn’t care, and “it’s going to infect you regardless.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID data tracker, there are now over a million people who died from the virus in the U.S. alone.
While it seems likely that COVID-19 is here to stay, everyone is still encouraged to practice safety precautions, get vaccinated, and be aware that you can get infected more than once.
Research on the new variants are still in the early stages. It’s still unkown how dangerous they really are.