COVID variant BA.5 is not only more contagious, it also has a higher risk of reinfection: Expert

COVID variant BA.5 is not only more contagious, it also has a higher risk of reinfection: Expert

Share it

What you should know

  • COVID cases are on the rise across the United States once again, driven in large part by the highly contagious and more vaccine-resistant Omicron subvariants.
  • All five New York boroughs were added back to the CDC’s high-risk category for the spread of COVID on Friday, with Westchester County also added to the list.
  • “It’s much more transmissible than any of the other variants we’ve seen before, which means it’s better at infecting and reinfecting,” said Dr. Lidia Virgil, director of operations at Somos Community Care.

NEW YORK – As the tri-state area surfs a sixth wave of COVID, doctors say this subvariant of Omicron can evade rapid test detection and more easily reinfect people, including those who have been vaccinated and boosted.

The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is now the dominant COVID strain in the US, with around 100,000 cases reported every day in recent weeks. There are fears that BA.5 may not immediately show up on many COVID tests, meaning infected people are not isolating themselves and could be spreading the virus further.

“People are not getting tested and people with symptoms that test may be negative on the first test. So they should get tested again,” said Dr. Lidia Virgil, director of operations at Somos Community. Care. “It’s much more transmissible than any of the other variants we’ve seen before, which means it’s better at infecting and reinfecting.”

Still, Dr. Virgil said the current strain is not more serious than previous strains, it is simply more easily transmitted than previous strains and sub-variants.

Statewide, the 7-day average of cases per 100,000 is back above 30, with more than 2,260 hospitalizations, nearly half of which (1,119) are in New York City, according to the most recent figures. . That’s comparable to the end of the winter’s Omicron surge, with nearly the same number of hospitalizations in February (1,132).

However, the number of deaths and stays in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) remain relatively low, which means that, once again, the new strain is not as formidable as the old ones, and that vaccines are preventing a rush of hospitalizations. There are currently 116 ICU COVID patients in city hospitals, that’s about half of the total winter surge.

And testing doesn’t seem to be such an urgent problem this time around, either. On Monday, near a couple of testing booths in Columbus Circle, the lines to get a bite to eat at the food trucks were longer than those to get a COVID test. And widespread mask wearing doesn’t appear to have returned either, despite the city advising masks to be worn inside public places once again.

In an effort to stop the spread, city health officials are pushing for more children to qualify for the vaccine.

The latest surge comes as New York state on Monday announced a new COVID hotline to serve those who have tested positive for the virus but do not have a health care provider. The hotline, 1-888-TREAT-NY (873-2869), uses NYC Health + Hospitals’ Virtual ExpressCare platform and is intended to help reduce barriers to treatment for underserved communities.

All New Yorkers outside of New York City, regardless of income or health insurance coverage who test positive for COVID-19, are eligible to be screened for treatment by calling that hotline or completing an on-line screening. NYS COVID-19 ExpressCare Therapeutics Access website, which includes a telemedicine visit.

New York City residents should call 212-COVID-19. It’s the same hotline, which is available 24/7 and staffed by clinically trained H+H professionals. Providers with H+H also offer virtual care through the ExpressCare platform.

All five boroughs are back in the CDC’s high-risk category for community spread of COVID as of the agency’s latest update, as city health officials remind people it’s smart to wear masks. indoor.

#COVID #variant #BA.5 #contagious #higher #risk #reinfection #Expert


Share it