Covid: New Omicron variant may be 3 times more likely to land you in hospital – study

Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert

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Research by a team from Portugal has revealed those who had been vaccinated had a seven percent chance of hospitalisation from the BA.2 variant. However, this rose to 23 percent in the case of the Omicron BA.5 strain – which is currently the most prominent variant in the UK. This means there is 3.3 times the risk.

As part of the study, which was published in Medrxiv, researchers analysed the health records and Covid lab data for more than 27,700 cases.

Of the samples taken between April 25 and June 10, 2022, 55.5 percent were classified as BA.2 and the remaining as BA.5.

It showed that people who had a booster vaccine were significantly less likely to be admitted to hospital or die from Covid.

The paper says: “We observed no evidence of reduced vaccine effectiveness for the primary complete vaccination or booster dose vaccination against BA.5 infection compared with BA.2.

“The protection against reinfection was inferior in BA.5 cases when compared with BA.2.

“Among those infected with BA.5, booster vaccination was associated with 77 percent and 88 percent of reduction in risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation and death, respectively, while higher risk reduction was found for BA.2 cases, with 93 percent and 94 percent, respectively.”

It also found that “higher odds of reinfection were observed in BA.5 cases compared with BA.2”.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) the Omicron BA.5 is the “dominant” SARS-CoV-2 variant in the UK.

It is estimated around 78.7 percent of Covid cases in England are BA.5, which was first identified in April.

However, latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed that Covid cases in general have continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland – with the trend “uncertain” for the most recent week in Northern Ireland.

In the week ending July 26, there were 2.58 million cases recorded in the UK.

This was down from 3.2 million in the week up to July 20, and 3.8 million the week before.

Some of the symptoms of BA.5 have differed from previous variants of Covid.

As reported by the ZOE health study, the 10 most common symptoms of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants – in order – are:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Unusual joint pain
  • Fever
  • Chills or shivers.

The ZOE study has been collecting data on the general population throughout the pandemic.

Other general symptoms of Covid, listed by the NHS, include:

  • A high temperature
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • An aching body
  • A blocked nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

It advises: “Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of COVID-19.”

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