The Omicron sub-variant BA.5 is widely spreading across Europe and the US, but it is not yet confirmed whether the mutation will be immune to vaccines and previous infections.
A new variant of the coronavirus strain Omicron is rapidly spreading, and scientists are concerned that vaccines may not completely protect us from it.
Though vaccines are still doing their job in protecting us from suffering severe symptoms, they cannot protect from all mild symptoms, all the time.
It has been reported that a new symptom to watch out for with this variant is night sweats, which is great timing as the UK battles a staggering heatwave with highs of potentially 40 degrees.
BA.5 also has the ability to re-infect people within only weeks of contracting the virus previously.
What is the new Omicron variant?
This strain is a variant of Omicron, which has developed alongside a similar strain called BA.4.
Both strains were added to the World Health Organisation’s monitoring list in March 2022 and have also been designated as variants of concern in Europe.
The latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that in the week ending June 29 the number of coronavirus infections kept rising.
England reported one in 25 people were estimated to have the disease, compared to one in 20 in Wales, one in 19 in Northern Ireland and one in 17 in Scotland.
BA.5 is not thought to be more harmful than other strains, but it is spreading quickly.
Where has BA.5 been found?
It was first discovered in South Africa in February 2022, only a month after another strain of omicron called BA.4 was found.
It seems to be spreading very quickly, more than other variants.
This week it became the prominent strain in the US, and already is the most dominant variant in Portugal.
It has reached most European countries, and Australia has also reported rising cases.
Is BA.5 vaccine-resistant?
Scientists don’t know for certain yet, but even if the vaccine does not prevent you from catching Covid-19, it will still make your symptoms much less severe than if you are unvaccinated.
Research so far has found that this strain is not more likely to make you seriously ill, and this is directly due to more people being vaccinated, boosted or naturally infected.
However, it does appear to be able to infect people even if they have recently had other types of Omicron, only weeks prior.
What are the symptoms of Omicron BA.5?
Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin told Irish radio station Newstalk that one symptom for this sub-strain different from previous ones is night sweats.
“One extra symptom from BA.5 I saw this morning is night sweats, isn’t that strange?” he said.
“There is some immunity to it – obviously with the T-cells and so on – and that mix of your immune system and the virus being slightly different might give rise to a slightly different disease, strangely enough night sweats being a feature.
“But very importantly, if you are vaccinated and you’re boosted, it doesn’t progress into severe disease is the message to keep reminding people.”
The other symptoms of this strain are familiar:
- Congestion or runny nose
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting