Doctors fear another COVID-19 surge is coming due to subvariant’s ‘capacity for reinfection’

Experts are concerned by a spike in COVID-19-related cases this summer.

BA.5 is a new subvariant of the omicron that could reinfect those who have tested positive in just a few short months. It’s now the dominant strain in the U.S., and it’s highly contagious, even for those who are vaccinated and boosted.

“Unlike any other variant, it has this incredible capacity for immune escape … Because it tends to have this capacity for reinfection, we’re worried we’re going to see increasing cases this summer,”Dr. Nicole Van Groningen from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

California’s test positivity rate is 15%, 10 times what it was in April, and in L.A., it’s even higher: 16.9%.

This is bad news for the 3.1 million people in the L.A. area who’ve already recovered from COVID-19, according to Dr. Dean Blumberg of UC Davis.

“There’s emerging evidence to suggest with each repeat infection, there are other complications that may occur, such as strokes, heart attacks and other long-term complications,”Blumberg spoke.

Vaccination is still the best way for most people to avoid serious illness. There are still very few hospitalizations or deaths. But, mask mandates could be reinstated if community transmission remains high for more than two weeks.

“People are worried and if we don’t start to take better precautions voluntarily, we might actually get back to the point where we need the mandate,” Van Groningen said.

Omicron-specific boosters are expected to be available this fall, but experts say people shouldn’t wait, as it’s important to get the vaccine and boosters as soon as they’re eligible.

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