November 29, 2022

What are the symptoms of BA.5 and how much concern is this omicron variant?

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(CNN Spanish) –– Another variant of covid-19 raises alarms again: the highly transmissible ómicron BA.5 is unleashing an increase in cases that worries both health authorities and the general public.

But, what symptoms does BA.5 generate and how much should we worry? This is what we know so far.

What are the symptoms of subvariant BA.5?

The BA.5 has three mutations key in its spike protein that make it more effective at infecting our cells and more adept at circumventing our immune defenses. Now, being a subvariant of omicron, its symptoms so far are similar to those of the other versions ––BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4–– of this mutation of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this sense, the agency emphasizes that care should be taken:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Throat pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms are also very similar to those of some variants of covid-19 before omicron, such as delta, as explained by the CDC. The agency noted that while cases of omicron infection are generally milder than those of other strains, some patients can become seriously ill, require hospitalization, and even die from the infection. It is also explained that the vaccination schedule against covid-19, pre-existing conditions and previous infections can influence the appearance and intensity of symptoms.

Reinfection with the BA.5 subvariant

Now, Dr. Elmer Huerta explained in his podcast “Coronavirus: reality vs. fiction” that the BA.5 subvariant is infecting millions of people who already had natural or acquired immunity against covid-19, with which those who spread they can get sick for the second, third and even fourth time of covid-19. In this regard, one recent pre-published research cited by Dr. Huerta, indicated that people who were reinfected had a higher risk of:

  • Lung and heart problems
  • Fatigue
  • digestive and kidney disorders,
  • Diabetes
  • And neurological problems after each reinfection, symptoms that could last for at least six months.

home test errors

Dr. Huerta indicated that there is also concern that the probability of presenting symptoms after reinfection was independent of the person’s vaccination status.

In fact, Laboratory studies on antibodies from the blood of people who have been vaccinated or recovered from recent covid-19 infections have looked at how well BA.5 resists, and this subvariant may outperform them. Therefore, people who have had covid in the winter or even in the spring may become vulnerable to the virus again.

Why should we be concerned?

omicron covid

Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, called the BA.5 variant “the worst version of the virus we’ve ever seen” because, he explained in a recent newsletter, it has an “immune leak” and “improves transmissibility”, far beyond previous versions of ómicron. This means that the subvariant can easily evade immunity from previous infections and vaccinations, increasing the risk of reinfection.

Along the same lines, Dr. Huerta pointed out that BA.5 could be generating a greater number of hospitalizations than the subvariants that preceded it. Which, according to the CDC, would not be a consequence of a greater severity of the infections caused by the subvariant, but would simply be a consequence of the high number of infections, which would proportionally increase the number of hospitalizations.

With information from Dr. Elmer Huerta, Dr. Leana Wen, Kattia Hetter, Eliza Mackintosh, and Brenda Goodman.



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