Subvariant BA.2.12.1 is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US and up to 27% more contagious as BA.2. Fortunately, the increases don’t necessarily mean increases in hospitalizations and serious illnesses. “Until we reach that steady state, we should expect each subsequent wave to be less powerful than the one before it,” says dr Aaron Richterman, an infectious disease fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. “In general, we can assume that the overall burden of major diseases will decrease over time.” Here are five signs you have COVID, according to experts. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.
As subvariant BA.2.12.1 continues to spread across the country, public health officials are warning if it feels like COVID, it’s probably COVID. “[Cases are] 27% more than a week ago,” says dr Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health. “You can see our positivity is up to 6.2% and keeps increasing. So I am guessing that most of you know someone who has had COVID recently or even has it now. There is a lot of COVID.”
If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home. “Let’s say someone is diagnosed with COVID and is in a time when they may be contagious. We know that with COVID you need to isolate for the first five days because at that point you can definitely spread COVID. ” says dr Arwady. Even if you test negative, some health officials recommend wearing a mask until you feel better.
Infection with Omicron doesn’t protect against new variants, doctors say, but a combination of a previous infection combined with a vaccine could help. “Omicron alone sweeping the world isn’t going to produce a very robust immune state that protects against other variants in the future unless you’re vaccinated,” says dr Melanie Ott, author and principal investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology at the University of California San Francisco. “The message is to really get vaccinated, even if you’re infected.”
Virus experts note that the symptoms of BA.2.12.1 are not as severe as previous variants. “The nature of the disease has changed” says dr Jonathan Dworkin, a clinical infectious disease physician in Hawaii. “Two years ago I saw a steady stream of severe cases of pneumonia. We are now in a situation where people should be able to avoid this outcome by utilizing vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis (if at high risk), and early antiviral therapy.”
The symptoms of BA.2.12.1 once again mimic those of a cold or flu – mainly fatigue and a runny nose, along with a headache, cough, sneezing and sore throat, according to experts. “We’ve seen a lot more sore throats and sore throats that we haven’t really seen before.” says Nancy Crum, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Avita Health System in Galion, Ohio.
“Patients can also have gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and a loss of taste or smell, although I’ve seen this much less frequently with the newer variants.”
Follow public health principles and help end this pandemic no matter where you live – get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible; If you live in an area with low vaccination rates, carry an N95 face masknot travelling, maintaining social distancing, avoiding large crowds, not going indoors with people you are not sheltering with (especially in bars), practicing good hand hygiene and protecting your life and the lives of others, not visiting any of these 35 places where you are most likely to contract COVID.
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for bringing science and research-backed information to a wide audience. Continue reading