The BA.5 variant of the novel coronavirus might be the most contagious yet, with health experts saying it could reinfect COVID-19 patients and survivors every month.
The BA.5 subvariant of omicron quickly became the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in most parts of the world, and scientists may have finally realized why the variant easily took over compared to other variants.
“What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks. So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that’s almost certainly BA.4 or BA.5,” Western Australia’s chief health officer Andrew Robertson told News.com.au.
For Robertson, what was previously seen as people gaining a certain level of protection after a bout with the virus is somehow no longer applicable with the more recent variants of SARS-CoV-2.
The rate by which BA.5 and BA.4 would reinfect individuals compared to the previous waves of COVID-19 led some experts to regard them as the most transmissible strains yet. And this is undeniable with the number of transmissions they caused recently.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the BA.5 variant has now taken over the other strains in the U.S., accounting for around 88.8% of new cases. Meanwhile, BA.4 accounted for 4.3% of new cases.
“They’re taking over, so clearly they’re more contagious than earlier variants of omicron,” David Montefiori, a professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center, told NBC News.
Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London Danny Altmann pointed out in an op-ed piece published on The Guardian that even after surviving omicron, people are “not well protected from further infections” due to the more transmissible variants.
Nevertheless, experts maintained that the COVID-19 vaccines are capable of providing partial immunity and protection against more severe infections caused by the newer strains.
Based on the latest figures, the U.S. has documented more than 93.4 million cases and 1.04 million deaths. The country has administered more than 607 million vaccine doses. Since June 18, more than 941,000 kids below 5 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.