BA.5 COVID Symptoms Physicians Are Seeing Most Right Now

The current COVID-19 the variants are more transmissible than ever, resulting in a higher rate of infection nationwide and increased risk associated with most activities.

“TThe current variants, which are BA.4 and BA.5, constitute approximately 82% of our current variants within our healthcare system,” said Dr. Janak Patel, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. , told HuffPost.

The current strains are also unique for reasons other than their transmissibility. They can also cause different symptoms vscompared to earlier strains of the virus.

Here, experts share the most common COVID-19 symptoms right now and other differences they’ve seen with these current variants.

Like other recent variants, a sore throat is a very common symptom with BA.5.

According to David Souleles, director of the University of California, Irvine’s COVID-19 Response Team, the most common symptoms of recent COVID infections include coughing, congestion-related fatigue and headaches.

One of the most pervasive issues, though? “Sore throats are very commonly reported,” he said.

However, it is important to remember that this may not be exclusive to BA.5. It takes time for the scientific community to compile recent infection data because variants change so quickly, Souleles said. And the medical community doesn’t know at the individual patient level who has which variant. Also, if you test with an at-home test, there’s no way to tell which variant you had.

On the whole, people feel quite sick or devastated when they suffer from it.

“[This strain is] causing a bad cold to a flu-like illness,” said Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious disease physician and Mayo Clinic researcher. And the exact symptoms and severity tend to vary depending on many factors, including age, medical history, and history of infection.

But, Souleles said “if you talk to the average person who’s had COVID, many will tell you it’s the sickest they’ve ever been without going to the hospital.”

Think persistent headaches, frequent coughing and restless nights. Plus, the overwhelming anxiety that COVID-19 brings. In addition, there is also the risk of long COVID. It is estimated that around 16 million people could be ill with the disease after being infected with the virus. So even though the symptoms may be described or considered mild, problems can still occur.

Cough is a widely reported symptom of recent COVID infections.

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Cough is a widely reported symptom of recent COVID infections.

You probably won’t lose your sense of taste and smell.

“Loss of taste and smell was a very common symptom that was reported in earlier variants of COVID-19,” Souleles said. “We hear a lot less of that than before.”

It likely has to do with how the virus has mutated and how it interacts with parts of our brains that regulate taste and smell, he added.

It seems people get infected and see symptoms more quickly.

According to Souleles, people are testing positive after exposure at a faster rate than at the start of the pandemic.

A year ago, it “could have been more than seven to 10 days past their exposure period,” he said. Now most people will test positive three to five days after exposure.

“We are certainly seeing a faster progression of symptoms after exposure.”

“Breakthrough” infections do not cause problems or symptoms that land people in the hospital as frequently as the previous variants.

“[BA.5] is a variant that can evade antibodies from other recent variants,” Tosh said.

But the reason most people don’t experience outcomes like hospitalizations or deaths has to do with the built-up immunity that many of us have, whether from vaccinations, previous infections, or of them. And that protection goes beyond antibodies; it is also because of our T-cell immunity, which increases every time we are vaccinated, vaccinated or infected.

“Antibodies prevent people from getting infected,” Tosh explained. “T cells prevent people from getting super sick” and needing hospital care.

T cells are much more robust at preventing people from getting very sick from different variants, including the current BA.5 subvariant.

With current variants of COVID, people are testing positive faster than they would have with previous variants.

ShotPrime via Getty Images

With current variants of COVID, people are testing positive faster than they would have with previous variants.

Those who are not vaccinated are always at high risk of serious consequences.

“We know that vaccines continue to provide fairly good protection against the most serious consequences that would result in hospitalization or death,” Souleles said. And when you look at hospital data across the country, the majority of people who end up in hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

“[Unvaccinated people] are getting more of these serious outcomes that we might have seen earlier in the pandemic when we didn’t have vaccines or drugs like Paxlovid,” he said.

Keep in mind that unvaccinated people are not guaranteed to get sicker, they are just more likely to face more serious consequences.

Due to the large number of vaccinated people in the country, you may notice an increase in the number of vaccinated people in hospitals. Yet vaccinated people are hospitalized at a much lower rate than unvaccinated people. In New York, for example, for every 100,000 people hospitalized, 1.7 are vaccinated and 11.5 are not vaccinated.

Immunocompromised people are also at high risk of serious consequences.

About 3% of the country is considered immunocompromised, which includes people with health conditions like certain types of cancer, diabetes and HIV.

People at high risk are more likely to face serious consequences from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. While some people may report cold symptoms of a BA.5 infection, those who are immunocompromised could face a much grimmer reality.

That’s why it’s important that immunocompromised people get all their shots and that everyone follows smart health precautions, especially when coming into contact with someone at high risk.

To stay healthy, use the mitigations we know work.

Vaccinate, boost, wear a mask, test before attending events, test three to five days after having known exposure, and self-isolate if you are sick, Souleles said.

“All of these things that have applied throughout the pandemic apply to BA.5 and all omicron variants. We have the tools to control this, we know what to do.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but advice may change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most recent recommendations.

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