(CTN News) – COVID-19 cases are on the rise. People with SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant BA 5 are more contagious than people with previous strains. How contagious is it?
Dr. Matthew Laurens, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, said the virus variant BA 5 has spread rapidly across the globe.
Is BA 5 more contagious than previous strains?
Laurens said it’s difficult to quantify the degree of elevated transmissibility, since conditions have changed. Vaccines and antibodies are now available to protect against previous exposures.
The ease of transmission is several orders of magnitude greater than the previous variant.
Almost 80% of the viruses currently diagnosed and sequenced in the U.S. are BA 5.
Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s map of U.S. COVID-19 infection rates on Thursday afternoon, 35.46% of the U.S had high COVID-19 community levels, an increase of 14.74%.
The majority of the DC metro area is ranked “medium” for COVID-19 community levels, but Howard County, Maryland, is ranked “high” with a case rate of 227.52 per 100,000 in population, and 4.5% of hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 cases.
The numbers of hospitalizations are rising
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 here in the United States,” said Laurens. But we’re nowhere near the surges we saw earlier this year with the omicron variant.”
BA 5 is evading immune responses from vaccinations and previous infections that normally protect against infection. Vaccine immune responses that prevent serious outcomes are working.
“Those who are vaccinated still have some protection from COVID-19, if they are infected with this BA.5 variant,” Laurens said.
Despite the pandemic’s unpredictable nature, Laurens wants people to remember that we are still in one.
“We still have precautions that need to be taken to prevent the spread of virus and save lives,” he explained.
People should take the most appropriate precautions to prevent COVID-19 infection, such as social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and vaccinating and maintaining vaccination booster schedules as recommended.
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