current COVID-19 The variants are more transmissible than ever, leading to a higher infection rate across the country and increased risks associated with most activities.
“TThe current variants, namely BA.4 and BA.5, make up about 82% of the current variants in our health system,” Dr. Janak Patel, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told HuffPost.
Existing breeds are unique for reasons beyond their transmissibility as well. It can also cause some different symptoms cCompared to previous strains of the virus.
Here, experts share the most common COVID-19 symptoms right now and other differences they’ve seen with these current variables.
Like other modern variants, sore throat is a very common symptom of BA.5.
According to David Souleles, director of the COVID-19 response team at the University of California, Irvine, the most common symptoms of a recent COVID infection include coughing, fatigue, congestion, and headache.
Despite this, one of the most prevalent issues? “It is very common to report a sore throat.
However, it’s important to remember that this may not be limited to BA 5. Souleles said it takes time for the scientific community to compile recent infection data because variables change so quickly. At the level of the individual patient, the medical community does not know who has the variant. Additionally, if you take the test at home, there is no way of knowing which alternative you have.
In general, people feel very sick or eliminated when they get it.
“[This strain is] “It causes a bad cold to turn into a flu-like illness,” said Dr. British Tosh, an infectious disease physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic. Exact symptoms and severity tend to vary depending on many factors, including age, medical history, and infection history.
But, Soelis said, “If you talk to the average person who has had COVID, a lot of people will tell you it’s the sickest thing they’ve been through without going to the hospital.”
Think of constant headaches, frequent coughs, and restless nights as a result. In addition, the extreme anxiety that the presence of COVID-19 brings. In addition, there is also the risk of being infected with the COVID virus for a long time. It is estimated that about 16 million people may develop this condition after contracting the virus. Therefore, although symptoms can be described as mild or moderate, there are still problems that can occur.
You probably won’t lose your sense of taste and smell.
“Loss of taste and smell has been a very common symptom reported in previous variants of COVID-19,” Soelis said. “We’ve heard it’s a lot lower than we’re used to.”
He added that this likely had to do with how the virus mutated and how it interacted with the parts of the brain that control the sense of taste and smell.
People seem to get infected and see symptoms faster.
According to Souleles, people are testing positive after exposure at a faster rate than earlier in the pandemic.
A year ago, he said, “it was probably more like seven to 10 days after their exposure period.” Now, most people will test positive three to five days after exposure.
“We are definitely seeing a rapid development of symptoms after exposure.”
“Breakthrough” infections do not lead to problems or symptoms that cause people to be hospitalized as frequently as the previous variants.
“[BA.5] It is one variant that can evade antibodies from other modern variants,” Tosh said.
But the reason most people don’t experience outcomes like hospitalization or death has to do with the accumulated immunity that many of us have, whether that’s from vaccinations, past infections, or both. This protection goes beyond the antibodies. It is also due to our T-cell immunity, which increases every time we receive a vaccination, boost or infection.
“Antibodies prevent people from getting infections,” Tosh explained. “T cells prevent people from getting very sick” and require hospital care.
T cells are more powerful at preventing people from becoming severely ill than various variants, including from the current BA.5 variant.
Those who are not vaccinated are still at high risk for serious outcomes.
“We know that vaccines continue to provide very good protection against more serious outcomes that could lead to hospitalization or death,” Soelis said. And when you look at hospital data across the country, the majority of people who end up in hospital with COVID-19 are not immunized or have not been fully vaccinated.
“[Unvaccinated people] They’re getting more of those serious results that we might have seen earlier in the epidemic when we didn’t have vaccines or drugs like Baxilovid.
Keep in mind that it is not guaranteed that unvaccinated people will become sicker, there is a greater chance that they will experience more serious outcomes.
Due to the huge number of vaccinated people in the country, you may notice an increase in the number of vaccinated individuals in hospitals. However, vaccinated people are hospitalized at a much lower rate than unvaccinated people. In New York, for example, for every 100,000 hospitalized, 1.7 are vaccinated and 11.5 are unvaccinated.
Immunocompromised people are still at high risk of severe outcomes as well.
Roughly 3% of the country is considered immunocompromised, which includes people with health conditions such as certain types of cancer, diabetes and HIV.
People at high risk are more likely to experience severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. While some people may report cold-like symptoms from a BA.5 infection, those who are immunocompromised may face a more bleak reality.
That’s why it’s important for immunocompromised individuals to get all of their vaccinations and for everyone to follow smart health precautions – especially when coming into contact with someone at high risk.
To stay healthy, use mitigation measures that we know are effective.
Vaccine, booster, mask-wearing, testing before attending events, testing three to five days after you have had a known exposure, and isolation if you are sick, Souleles said.
“All of those things that have been applied during the entire pandemic apply to BA.5 and all omicron variants. We have the tools to control this, and we know what to do.”
Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but the guidance could change as scientists learn more about the virus. Please check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest recommendations.