A new subvariant of the omicron variant of COVID-19, known as BA.5, has been discovered in the US and several other countries.
It is spreading fast and is highly transmissible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BA.5’s presence in the US accounted for 65% of new infections over the past week.
Also, it is currently the most dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus.
The sub-variant is the only strain of the virus that is currently classified as a “variant of concern” by the CDC.
BA.5 also happens to be the dominant strain of COVID-19 in New Jersey.
Here is what you need to know about the latest strain of omicron and the symptoms to look out for.
What are the symptoms of the BA.5 subvariant of COVID?
BA.5’s symptoms, like other COVID-19 variants, can vary widely from person to person depending on their age and other health factors.
However, BA.5 tends to share symptoms with other omicron subvariants.
Dr. Sandra Adams, a Professor of Biology and virologist at Montclair State University, told NJ Advance Media that BA.5′s symptoms “are like those of upper respiratory infections, such as runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever, persistent cough and fatigue.”
“The symptoms are very much like the symptoms of the BA.2 and BA.4 variants,” Adams added. “The BA-5 variant is more transmissible because it appears to evade antibody protection from previous infections and vaccines. The mutations allow BA.5 to escape neutralizing antibodies elicited by previous Omicron variants. However, Vaccines and previous infections still provide protection from serious disease.”
It is still too soon to know if BA.5 causes dramatically different symptoms than the variants of COVID-19 that preceded it, but “loss of taste or smell” found in earlier forms of COVID-19 was relatively uncommon.
However, there has been anecdotal evidence of people losing their sense of smell with the uptick in BA.5 cases, according to NBC News.
How do I protect myself from the BA.5 subvariant?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), get vaccinated if you are 6 months of age or older and have not gotten your primary series of vaccinations.
If you are 5 years of age or older, the CDC recommends a booster shot if you are eligible.
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