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Sure Signs You Have the New COVID Variant

An urgent care doctor who has treated COVID patients since the beginning explains.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Our lives have been turned upside down for over two years now thanks to COVID and while things are returning to normal, the pandemic isn't over.  People are still getting infected daily with the virus and there's an uptick of cases in many areas. In addition, there's constantly new variants because the virus continues to mutate, which makes this feel like it's never ending. Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health and Saint Mary's Hospital has been treating COVID patients since the beginning and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with her about the latest variants and what to know about them. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is the Latest COVID Variant and What Should People Know About It?

Female Lab Research Worker Wearing PPE Holding Test Tube Labelled BA.2

Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "BA.4 and BA.5 are the two new variants that are causing an uptick in cases. The subvariants are a concern because of their ability to transmit infection quickly (highly contagious) and re-infect people previously infected with COVID-19." 


How Effective is the Vaccine Against the Variants?

Woman wearing face mask looking at camera showing thumbs up after getting the covid-19 vaccine.

Dr. Curry-Winchell states, "The vaccine remains protective against COVID-19 by decreasing your risks of severe disease or hospitalization. Currently research suggests the vaccines are less effective against the new variants." 


Why Should People Still Get Vaccinated if the Original Strain Isn't Dominant?

Doctor vaccinating female patient in clinic.

Dr. Curry-Winchell shares, "We often hear the phrase no guarantees in life. This holds true with COVID-19. Although the original strain is not the dominant strain, it does not fully absolve your chances of getting it. If you are vaccinated and boosted it provides the best chance of not experiencing severe illness, hospitalization, or death." 


Why Do Some People Experience a Mild Case of COVID, While Others Have Lingering Symptoms?

woman in a hospital waiting room - wearing face mask

Dr. Curry-Winchell explains, "It's multifaceted. It could be due to your current health status. If you have a disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a chronic condition, your chance of experiencing lingering symptoms could increase. However, many of my patients without underlying health conditions are experiencing Long COVID."


How to Tell the Difference Between the COVID Variant and the Flu or Cold?

sick immune system

"It's hard to tell," says Dr. Curry-Winchell. "Unfortunately, many of the symptoms are the same such as fever, cough, sinus pressure and body aches. That's why it's important to utilize home COVID-19 tests. If your symptoms are getting worse or there's new developments, seek out a health care provider. Knowing your diagnosis can help you choose the best treatment plan."


Are the Variants as Serious as the Original COVID Strain?

Sick woman with flu at home

Dr. Curry-Winchell shares, "Each variant is slightly different from the original strain. At this time the new variants are associated with a high rate of transmission meaning it's easier to catch. Therefore, it's important to stay at home if you are experiencing symptoms, get tested, and consider getting vaccinated and boosted."


What Are Signs You Have the New Variant?

Young woman having flu

Dr. Curry-Winchell tells us, "There are no sure signs of having the new variant. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms such as a cough, fatigue, body aches, sinus pressure, loss of taste or smell and body aches, reach out to your health care provider."


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather