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Sure Signs You Have the BA.5 Variant

The pandemic is always changing.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The one thing that stays constant about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it's always changing. This week's big news is the emergence of the BA.5 variant, which has become the dominant strain in the U.S. and is spreading rapidly. These are the signs you have the BA.5 variant of COVID. 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.


BA.5 More Contagious, Even If You're Vaccinated

Happy vaccinated woman gesturing thumbs up.

It's well known that each successive COVID variant has been more contagious than the last. But BA.5 is exceptionally so, and it seems to be the most adept so far at eluding the protection of vaccines and previous infection. This week, NBC News reported that BA.4 and BA.5 are about three times less sensitive to antibodies from existing COVID vaccines than the original version of Omicron. So far, BA.5 accounts for about 54 percent of infections in the U.S.


"The Re-Infection Wave"

A woman displays her vaccination card and the

BA.5's ability to snake around prior immunity means we might be on the cusp of a "reinfection wave," as The Atlantic put it this week. "Not only is it more infectious, but your prior immunity doesn't count for as much as it used to," Dr. Bob Wachter, the chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told NPR on Monday. "And that means that the old saw that, 'I just had COVID a month ago, and so I have COVID immunity superpowers, I'm not going to get it again' — that no longer holds."


Most Common Symptoms of BA.5

Young sick woman laying in her bed.

NBC 5 Chicago reported that according to statistics in the UK—where BA.5 is already the dominant strain—the most common symptoms of BA.5 are runny nose, sore throat, headache, persistent cough, and fatigue. In the UK Independent this week, a doctor said that an unusual symptom that is common with BA.5 is night sweats.


The Most Common COVID Symptoms

Sick woman with tissue and running nose

The CDC hasn't changed its list of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, which include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms, and even people with mild cases of COVID have gone on to develop "long COVID," symptoms that linger for weeks or months after initial COVID infection. 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael