COVID-19: what is known about Omicron’s BA4 and BA5 sub-variants driving an increase in cases?

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Ómicron predominate in COVID-19 infections, what are their characteristics? | Photo: Getty Images

In the last infections of COVID-19 for the variant Omicron cases caused by subvariants BA.4 and BA.5This was reported by the Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López Gatell, in a morning conference. At Uno TV we tell you what they are about.

“What we see is that in the behavior of the Omicron variant, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants predominate, and what this means is that a mostly mild disease is expected”

Hugo Lopez-Gatell

According to the data offered in the Morning Conference of June 21, in the week of June 12 to 18, 4 thousand 823 cases of COVID-19 compared to 5 thousand 481 of the previous week

What are the symptoms of BA.4 and BA.5 variants?

According to the Federal Government official, the symptoms that have been reported in the last registered cases “are similar to those of the common cold.” In this sense, López-Gatell celebrates that the spread growth is lower than that seen in the fourth wave of COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of the common cold that are also present in the Omicron variant are the following:

  • sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • Throat pain
  • Cough
  • Mucus dripping from the throat (postnasal drip)
  • tearing
  • Fever

How serious are these subvariants of Omicron?

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDCfor its acronym in English) ensures that “there are currently no indications of any change in the severity of BA.4/BA.5 compared to previous Omicron bloodlines” like the XE. So far, they have not been proven to be more lethal.

The European authorities also point out that the high growth rates reported suggest that these variants will be dominant in the European Union (EU) and in the European Economic Area (EEA) in the coming months, as in the case of Portugal, where 37% of cases of COVID-19 until May 8 corresponded to BA.4 Y BA.5.

When and where did the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 appear?

The ECDC itself states that the BA.4 subvariants Y BA.5 of the variant Omicron of COVID-19 they were first detected in South Africa in January and February 2022, respectively, and have since become the dominant variants there with 5 and 6% of cases identified in the African country.

Do COVID-19 vaccines work against subvariants?

Alex Sigal, a virologist at the African Health Research Institute and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, says that “if you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19what you have is almost no immunity against the BA.4 and the BA.5“.

Likewise, the BBC also stressed that “many people have developed some immunity from past infections and vaccinations, which makes the disease generally less risky.” On the other hand, the WHO also agrees that the best way to protect yourself from BA.4 and BA.5 is through vaccination in any age group.

What are the recommendations against BA.4 and BA.5?

The ECDC recommends that countries remain vigilant for signs of the appearance of BA.4 and BA.5. Early variant detection critically relies on sensitive and representative testing and genomic surveillance, with timely sequence reporting.

“Representative testing policies are required to reliably estimate the contribution of these variants to ongoing viral circulation, as well as to accurately determine the extent to which these variants may contribute to any observed increase in serious outcomes in the population, such as increases in hospital admissions”


The European Center complements saying: “For all age groups, it remains a priority to improve the acceptance of the vaccine against COVID-19 of the primary cycle and the first booster dose in populations that have not yet received them”.

Finally, on April 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled out that the subvariants BA.4 Y BA.5 of Omicron imply that they generate more serious conditions or that they are more transmissible than the other strains that have already advanced in their circulation.

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