What are the “worst” Omicron variants to watch out for?

A new wave of COVID-19 is emerging in the United States, driven primarily by two strong Omicron strains.

The BA.5 subvariant, first seen in South Africa and later in Portland, has been classified by experts as the “worst version” of Omicron, according to NBC New York, because it evades antibodies and transmits easily.

This week, the BA.5 strain alone accounted for 36% of cases in the US, while BA.4, another Omicron subvariant that is gaining momentum, accounted for 15.7% of the cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data tracker had infections under control.

What are the top Omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, Omicron variants have a shorter incubation period, which is why symptoms can appear earlier.

The most common symptoms associated with Omicron are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Traffic jam.
  • Runny nose.

The CDC has listed common symptoms for COVID-19. The symptoms are:

  • fever or chills.
  • Cough.
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • muscle or body pain.
  • Headache.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • congestion or runny nose.
  • nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Is it easier to reinfect with the new omicron variants?

Before the introduction of omicron, previous infection reduced the risk of reinfection by 84%.

A preliminary study published in Science in March suggested that the risk of reinfection with the new Omicron variants had now “substantially increased,” according to NPR.

These newer variants also have the ability to evade immunity from vaccines or previous infections, or both, according to Deseret News.

Expert and medical scientist Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, described BA.5 as “the worst version of the virus,” according to Fortune.

“It takes the already extensive immune escape to the next level, and as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility that goes far beyond Omicron (BA.1) and other variants of the Omicron family that we’ve seen (including BA.1.1, BA.2 , BA.2.12.1 and BA.4),” he wrote earlier this week.

What other omicron variants should one look out for?

Aside from BA.5 and BA.4, which together are the dominant variants in the US, BA.2.12.1 is still spreading and accounts for 42% of cases.

BA.2 is currently the cause of only 5.7% of infections, while BA.1.1 and BA.1.1.529 are no longer circulating in the US, according to the CDC tracker.