Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 have now hit Australia and are finding ways to avoid immunity, which could result in an increase in the likelihood of reinfection.

What are the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants?

Both variants were detected in South Africa, with BA.4 in January 2022 and BA.5 in February 2022. The two variants have managed to evade immunity, which increases the chances of reinfection. Australia is starting to see exponential growth in COVID-19 case numbers which will see hospitalisation numbers increase. Reports suggest that hospital admissions are now at their highest levels since Summer 2022.

Will there be a chance of reinfection?

BA.4 and BA.5 has been described as a ‘master at evading immunity’, signifying the potential for an increase in reinfection. The reinfection period is defined as a new infection at least 12 weeks after the first one. It's predicted that the number of Australians who will have second or third infections of COVID-19 will only get larger as the BA.4 and BA.5 strain is said to affect more people.

What is the severity of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants?

As the variants are still fairly new, health experts are currently unsure on how they will affect individuals differently from previous strains. However, they do assure that full vaccination (of three doses for most individuals) does provide protection against COVID, serious illness and death against BA.4 and BA.5. Second-generation vaccines are currently in clinical trials and are demonstrating promising results for better protection against BA.4 and BA.5.

How can I protect myself and others?

As information constantly changes, it is strongly recommended to continue to wear face masks and social distance where possible. It's also advised to stay home and test if symptoms arise and to make sure you're up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. Ensure you're staying careful and hygienic by covering coughs and sneezes and washing your hands or using hand sanitiser when needed.

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Information sourced from the ABC and The Guardian

Image credit: Kai Pilger on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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