Local pediatrician on BA.5 variant's dominance

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 23:16:51-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A coronavirus subvariant now appears to be the most dominant version of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BA.5, an omicron variant, accounts for nearly 54% of COVID cases in the country, according to the CDC's Covid data tracker.

Dr. Elizabeth Hawse, a pediatrician at Commonwealth Pediatrics, explained that BA.5 and BA.4, another coronavirus subvariant, appear to be more elusive to the immune system.

"This one has more mutations in the spike protein," Dr. Hawse said. "And the more that spike protein mutates, the less it looks like the spike protein you were either infected with before or vaccinated with before."

Dr. Hawse said she has recently seen an uptick of patients diagnosed with Covid-19. She suspects they were infected with the BA.5 variant.

"It used to be that when you would have COVID, we sort of assumed you had about 90 days that if you weren't vaccinated that you had some immunity to that variant," Dr. Hawse explained. "It does not appear that that's happening with this."

Experts do not currently believe the new subvariants cause more severe disease than prior variants, according to NBC News.

Dr. Hawse said while some of her vaccinated patients have been infected by the virus, they are largely protected against more severe consequences, like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

Dr. Hawse said she has seen a few patients end up in the hospital with complications from MIS-C.

"That is, you know, why we're vaccinating kids for COVID," Dr. Hawse explained. "It isn't necessarily the acute COVID, but it is the long-term effect of COVID."