New COVID-19 Variants
How BA.5 Differs from Other COVID-19 Subvariants
Discovered in January 2022, the BA.5 subvariant of COVID-19 has quickly become a dominant driver of the illness. It presents similarly to other COVID-19 subvariants, with a few crucial differences. Find out how BA.5 differs from other COVID-19 subvariants and how you can best protect yourself.
Symptoms of Subvariant BA.5:
Symptomatically, BA.5 looks very similar to other variants of COVID-19. Respiratory symptoms include coughing, a runny nose, and a sore throat. Other common symptoms include headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and fever.
Thankfully, BA.5 does not appear to be any more severe than previous variants. Like all COVID-19 variants, there is a risk of severe outcomes, including death. Older people and those with certain health conditions or weakened immune systems are most at risk.
Contagiousness of BA.5 versus Other Variants:
As a sister variant of Omicron, BA.5 follows the trend of high transmissibility. In fact, it appears that BA.5 is the most contagious subvariant yet.
Like other variants, BA.5 can be passed easily through respiratory droplets that enter the air through our breathing. These droplets are most likely to cause illness indoors where there is little ventilation. However, BA.5 is proving to be fairly effective at spreading outdoors as well. Experts are recommending increased caution both indoors and outdoors.
Immunity to the BA.5 Subvariant:
One of the reasons that BA.5 has become a dominant subvariant is its ability to evade the immune system. People who have had COVID-19 in the past or who have been vaccinated and boosted are less likely to catch BA.5. However, the protection isn’t as strong as it is for other variants.
The mutations on BA.5’s spike protein make it different from other variants. This means that antibodies from previous versions of COVID-19 are less likely to detect BA.5. This is leading to a higher rate of breakthrough infections, where some fully vaccinated individuals still catch the illness.
Despite the higher rate of infections, being vaccinated still reduces the likelihood that you’ll be hospitalized or die from the virus.
Prevention Measures for BA.5:
Keeping in mind that BA.5 is more contagious than any other variant, consider increasing your personal and workplace health measures. This includes getting COVID-19 vaccines and boosters when you’re eligible, wearing a face mask in public, washing hands frequently, and choosing less crowded venues. Talk to your friends and family about their COVID-19 risk tolerance, and plan to socialize in ways that everyone feels comfortable with.
It’s important to get tested for COVID-19 if symptoms arise or you’ve been in contact with someone who has it. Stay home and isolate if you’re sick or if you test positive.
Treatment of COVID-19— Including BA.5:
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and you’re at risk of severe outcomes, you may qualify for prescription medications. The two classes of medications available are antiviral treatments and monoclonal antibodies.
Antiviral treatments stop the virus from multiplying, while monoclonal antibodies help the immune system react more effectively to COVID-19. These medications lower the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. To work, they must be taken within the first few days of getting symptoms or testing positive.
Severe symptoms of COVID-19 include chest pain, difficulty breathing, confusion, and loss of speech or mobility. If you experience any of these symptoms, get medical attention immediately.
WellNow can assist with COVID-19 treatment; visit COVID-19 Test & Treat for more info.
WellNow Services for all COVID-19 Variants:
If you have concerns about COVID-19, turn to WellNow Urgent Care. With more than 180 clinics across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, we’re here when you need us.
To receive 24/7 medical advice virtually (including COVID-19 medication prescriptions if appropriate), use our Virtual Care service.
For COVID-19 testing, visit a WellNow clinic near you.
WellNow provides excellence in both care quality and convenience for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Whether it’s the latest COVID-19 variant, allergies or injuries, we have you covered. Discover our full range of services and keep WellNow in mind for your next urgent care visit.