Take a look at the viral warnings about the new symptoms and dangers of Omicron BA4 and BA5 variants, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : New Symptoms + Dangers of Omicron BA4, BA5!
This warning about the new symptoms and dangers of Omicron BA4 and BA5 variants has gone viral on WhatsApp, and on social media.
It’s rather long, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts!
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Truth : New Symptoms + Dangers of Omicron BA4, BA5
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on WhatsApp, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Omicron Infections Still Confer Immunity
The viral message falsely claims that Omicron infections do not confer any immunity, and that you would keep getting it over and over again.
The truth is – whenever our immune system succeeds in fighting off a new COVID-19 variant, it gains the ability to fight off a future infection by the same variant.
In fact, that is how the COVID-19 vaccine works – it presents a copy of SARS-CoV-2 so that our own immune system can learn how to fight against the real virus.
Fact #2 : Original COVID-19 Vaccines Still Work Against Omicron
The viral message falsely claims that COVID-19 vaccines no longer work against Omicron.
It is true that the virus mutates in every infected person, and through the process of evolution, can potentially develop variants that are better at escaping antibodies created by natural immunity and/or vaccines.
But while new variants can have better “immunity escape” ability, you are still protected by the antibodies and immunological memory created by the original COVID-19 vaccines and/or previous COVID-19 infections.
New Omicron vaccines have been developed, and offer better protection against Omicron and its many subvariants.
Read more : Omicron Variant Warning By RSA Doctors Group?
Fact #3 : BA4 + BA5 Are Omicron Subvariants
The viral message falsely claims that BA4 is a new extended variant of BA5, and is a different virus.
The truth is – BA4 and BA5 are not new COVID-19 variants, just subvariants of the Omicron variant.
Think of them as different model years of the same car – a BMW X5, for example. They may look slightly different, and have upgraded features, but are ultimately BMW X5 models that handle similarly, and different from Mercedes C300 cars.
Fact #4 : BA4 + BA5 Symptoms Similar To Other Omicron Variants
The viral message falsely claims that BA4 and BA5 infections do not present with cough or fever.
BA4 and BA5 are just Omicron subvariants, and present with common symptoms like cough, fever, sore throat, cold, body aches.
Fact #5 : BA4 + BA5 Are Not 5X More Toxic Than Delta Variant
The term “toxic” is nonsensical when it comes to viruses, and tells us that the writer does not understand basic science, never mind virology.
The fake news creator probably meant “virulent” or “virulence”, which refers to the virus’ ability to cause damage to its host. In any case, that is a false claim.
Omicron and its subvariants notably causes less severe illness than the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) that caused havoc in mid 2021.
In fact, the Delta variant causes more severe disease than any other COVID-19 variants, particularly in people who were not vaccinated.
Fact #6 : BA4 + BA5 Do Not Skip The Nasopharynx
The viral message falsely claims that BA4 and BA5 subvariants skip the nasopharynx.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is immobile, and travels through droplets and aerosols that we breathe in. It is not a homing missile that goes in search of a particular target.
As the air we breathe passes through the nasopharynx before it reaches the lungs, that is where most of the virus ends up, and that is why we swab the nasopharynx to detect COVID-19.
Fact #7 : BA4 + BA5 Are Detected Like Any Other COVID-19 Variant
The viral message falsely claims that BA4 and BA5 subvariants are not easily detected.
Again, BA4 and BA5 are Omicron subvariants, and are detected by the same PCR or RTK tests as the original Omicron variant.
Fact #8 : Nasal / Nasopharyngeal Swab Test Will Still Pick Up BA4 / BA5
The false claim that nasal / nasopharyngeal swab tests will turn up negative also keeps getting rehashed for the variant of the day.
People too earlier claimed that the nasal / nasopharyngeal swab tests would turn up negative for the Delta variant. It was nonsense then, it’s nonsense today.
Nasal or better still, nasopharyngeal swab, to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus still works for the BA4 and BA5 subvariants.
Fact #9 : Omicron Wave Is Not Deadlier Than First COVID-19 Wave
While Omicron is certainly more infectious than the ancestral COVID-19 virus, it is less virulent.
Even though it causes massive waves of infections, severe illness and deaths have been significantly lower. That’s why hospital did not run out of ICU beds or oxygen supply during Omicron waves.
On the other hand, because Omicron is so infectious, it infects many more people. So in very large waves, the large number of infectious could result in large numbers of hospitalisations and deaths.
That’s why health authorities keep advising people to get vaccinated, and if possible, protect themselves by wearing face masks in crowded and/or public areas.
Fact #10 : This Is Just Chinese Propaganda
This is just another example of Chinese propaganda created by the infamous Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛).
From the odd syntax, it is clear that this viral warning was written / translated from Chinese. It also peculiarly focused on the Omicron wave in the United States when most countries in the world have been hit by Omicron waves of their own.
All of the wumao articles and videos that I looked at so far have proven to be false… at every instance. So please watch out for such false claims.
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