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Expert answers questions about new COVID-19 variant, BA.5
7/14/2022 12:00:00 AM

A subvariant of omicron, BA.5, has contributed to new COVID-19 infections throughout the nation. This new strain has been identified as causing the most recent spike in cases in Virginia.
Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, chief of infectious diseases at VCU Health, tells us what we need to know about this newest variant and how to stay safe amid the rise in infections.
This new variant is a mutation of coronavirus, and it allows the virus to evade the immunity that is created by prior infection or by the vaccines. It may also latch itself on better or more efficiently to respiratory cells that cause infections.
Individuals who have been immunized or have been infected before and/or immunized will likely have less severe symptoms, if they get reinfected. However, there’s still cause for concern, and we need to remain vigilant against this latest variant.
Here at VCU Health, we’re seeing more hospitalizations and more cases, which is the same for around the state. So, there is concern about another wave of this pandemic.
The best way to protect yourself is to continue to be aware of the situation. If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you’re not boosted and eligible for a booster, get boosted. Continue to wear a mask, and continue to practice social distance, particularly in crowded indoor environments. There are things that can be done by everyone to minimize the risk of infection.
This is a potent reminder that COVID-19 is still here. We’re going to see increases in transmission as new variants arise. I expect there will be new vaccines or new versions of the vaccine coming up for the fall and winter that will better deal with these evolving variants. Stay on top of that information and keep up-to-date with your vaccinations and boosters.
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