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I'm a Virus Expert and Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know About COVID Right Now

We have a new dominant subvariant.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

BA.5 is an Omicron variant that is showing a much higher transmissibility rate than the Delta variant. This means that people are being infected with this strain at a much higher rate than previous strains and as early data shows, even those with up-to-date vaccinations and recent COVID-19 infections, are still able to be easily infected with BA.5. The good news is that the strain seems to have much more mild effects than the Delta virus and also lower hospitalization rates, partially resulting from the virus mutations which lessen disease severity and partially impact from immunization resulting from infection and/or from vaccinations. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


New Variant Alert: BA 2.75

Nurse holding test tube with blood for 2019-nCoV.

While the BA.5 is now the dominant variant in the US, another Omicron variant has appeared, BA 2.75. The BA 2.75 variant seems to have similar traits to the BA.5 variant and is quickly spreading around the world, having recently been reported in the US. The Omicron variants continue to be a worry for scientists as the reinfection rate continues to rise and vaccination immunity wanes. It is too early to tell if BA 2.75 will become the dominant variant and what its full effects will be.


Why Getting COVID-19 is No Longer Seen as an "Immunity Boost"

Doctor and covid-19 infected patient in bed in hospital.

Early on in the pandemic and at the release of vaccinations, many people thought that contracting COVID-19, and surviving it, would help boost natural immunity to the virus and prevent them from contracting it again. With continued mutations, as well as extended time from initial vaccinations, immunity is beginning to wain while reinfections are continuing to rise. The idea that contracting COVID-19 may have an upside has always been on thin ice and although preliminary research has been done into the long-term effects of COVID-19, more research and more time are needed for the medical community to truly understand this virus and its full effects.


An Update on Testing Efficacy

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

Rapid antigen tests, typically the type of test used for at-home testing, can become more and more inaccurate as time passes and new variants come into play. The FDA has implemented that COVID-19 testing companies must regularly check the accuracy and ability of their tests against new variants as they appear. However, with rapid mutation of the COVID-19 virus, it is hard for individuals to know if their results are accurate as false negatives may appear. Likewise, the evaluation and mass production of tests against new variants is a troubling, time-consuming process. With multiple new variants, the best way to ensure accurate results at this point is through a molecular test at the healthcare facility, which have more built-in redundancy for methods of identifying a new variant.


What's next for our society

Rising cases and hospitalizations make these the nation's hot spots.

The majority of the world will no longer tolerate harsh measures in response to COVID-19. It is a natural process for the general public to become fatigued and complaisant in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Although infection rates have been increasing, restrictions continue to be lifted as people push for more freedoms and liberties. Individuals need to remember the potential devasting effects of COVID-19 but at the same time, for researchers and developers to provide new, innovative solutions for keeping our communities safe and healthy with a key focus on convenience. An example of this would be accessible and accurate molecular testing with rapid results, something I personally am working to research, develop, and ultimately provide to the public. Unfortunately, some people are at higher risk from being infected by COVID than others, this includes older people and those with certain chronic illnesses. It is up to these individuals to take extra care when at risk for being exposed to COVID, even though others may seem to throw caution to the wind.


How to Stay Safe


It's important to keep safety precautions in mind given the easy transmissibility of this virus. If you have upcoming travel or events to attend, you may consider implementing safety recommendations like staying in, wearing an N-95 mask, and/or consistently sanitizing your hands. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Dr. Michael Blaivas
Dr. Michael Blaivas is a Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics. Read more about Dr. Michael