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Basics of BA.5

How the latest COVID-19 subvariant is fueling a summer surge.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 due to a rapidly spreading subvariant of omicron known as BA.5. The new virus strain is now dominant in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Shalika Katugaha, MD, system medical director of Infectious Diseases at Baptist Health, explained what you need to know as the subvariant drives a COVID-19 summer surge.

1. BA.5 is powerful.

This subvariant is adept at infecting people who have previously had COVID-19 (including the omicron strain) and those who have been vaccinated. Scientists are working on a new booster that targets BA.5 and a related variant known as BA.4, but it won’t be ready until the fall, according to Dr. Katugaha. In the meantime, health experts urge people to stay up to date on the vaccines that are available now, and to wear masks in high-risk settings such as large indoor gatherings.

“If you’re eligible for a second booster and haven’t gotten it yet, you should get it now,” Dr. Katugaha said. “You can still get any updated boosters that come out in the fall.”

2. Take advantage of available treatments.

In addition to ensuring you're up to date on vaccines and boosters, take advantage of at-home test kits if you're exhibiting symptoms.

“If you do get COVID-19, talk to your doctor about treatments like antiviral medications or monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Katugaha said.

3. This won’t be the last variant we see.

Subvariants of COVID-19 will continue to appear as the virus evolves,” Dr. Katugaha said. “That’s why getting boosters remains so important.”

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine. Click here to find a vaccination location near you.

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