Four new COVID-19 strains showing strongest transmissibility yet

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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Auburn, AL. (WTVM) - Four new strains of COVID have been and will continue to hit our area for the next few weeks, causing another uptick in people testing positive and once again spreading the virus.

“These new variants are more transmissible than any other variant,” Dr. Frederick Kam, Medical Director of Auburn University Medical Clinic, said.

A set of three subvariants from what we’re seeing now, BA2, is starting to arise.

Kam, who has tracked COVID 7 days a week for the past two and a half years, explained the strains BA2.12.1, BA4 and BA5 are changing the COVID game.

“We’re seeing people who had COVID back in January and February get it again in April May and June,” Kam said. “They’re saying it is impossible, I just had it in January and February. Some of them had it in November and December when we had the Delta wave come through. What we are seeing is that these new variants are escaping immunity from past infection and the vaccine.”

Kam said staying healthy now is the same as during other strains, get vaccinated and boosted. He explained be aware of ventilation in a room when you’re around a lot of people and of course, mask up.

“Vaccines are not working well for getting infected. There’s a difference,” Kam explained. “One is getting infected, two is will I get severe disease, hospitalizations or die? Even today, more than 300 people are dying in the United States. It’s not as bad as a year ago from Delta or the original virus, but it’s still happening.”

He explained a lot of people consider COVID a seasonal virus-- mostly happening in the winter. He said that is false. Summer is just the same when it comes to transmissibility of COVID: a time when many people, especially this year out of the pandemic, come together.

“What do people in South do in the summer? We go more indoors because there is air conditioning,” Kam told us. “We do a lot with groups: summer camps, holidays, Juneteenth, July 4, concerts, both indoor and outdoor.”

The most transmissible strain, BA5, is expected to hit our area come mid July.

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