Coronavirus: BA.4 and BA.5 now classified as variants of concern - symptoms
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In common with every virus, COVID-19 mutates. COVID-19 is a mutation of the coronavirus, the same one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003. The hope is COVID-19 will continue to mutate in a favourable way to become less infectious and less transmissible. However, this isn’t certain as scientists raise the alert level on two sub-variants Covid BA.4 and BA.5.

BA.4 and BA.5 are two sub-variants of the most transmissible form of COVID-19, Omicron.

Amid its spread through the nation at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 Omicron began to mutate.

However, not all mutations are as concerning as others.

This is why a lot of focus has been on BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 but not BA.3; BA.1 was the original form of Omicron.

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The latest data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) shows BA.2 remains the most dominant form of COVID-19 in the UK.

BA.4 and BA.5’s status as variants of concern has been driven in part by their role in causing a swell in coronavirus in South Africa where Omicron originated.

The prediction is, with no restrictions currently in place, the same could occur in the UK.

Doctor Meera Chand of the UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) said: “Whilst the impact of these variants is uncertain, the variant classification system aims to identify potential risk as early as possible. UKHSA is undertaking further detailed studies.”

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So far there are just 115 cases of BA.4 and 80 cases of BA.5 in the UK; however, a report by the UKHSA suggests it is more transmissible than BA.2.

As a result, these numbers are likely not the full picture.

The reason for this is the UK is pulling back its testing, so the Government is less aware of COVID-19 transmission than it was before.

Subsequently, it has reduced the country’s ability to detect and track new variants; although not a problem at the moment, it could mean a more dangerous variant could slip through.

This is unless the virus reaches an evolutionary bottleneck.

An evolutionary bottleneck explains Professor Denis Kinane “essentially means there is only a limited amount of genetic variation that a virus’ genome can withstand while remaining transmissible”.

Professor Kinane added: “[If] it (the virus) mutes into a variant that is not transmissible then the virus will disappear.”

In the best-case scenario this is what COVID-19 does, it disappears through getting stuck with nowhere to go in an evolutionary sense.

This is only a hope and not a certainty.

Neither is it a certainty restrictions will return or a new variant will appear or Covid will continue.

However, it is because of these uncertainties nations have to be on guard just in case a new variant appears, one that slips through every net and any mask.

The UK is one of the few countries choosing to take a chance on Covid evolution.

Symptoms of Omicron include:
• A high temperature
• A continuous cough
• A loss or change to sense of smell or taste
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling tired or exhausted
• Aching body
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Blocked or runny nose
• Loss of appetite
• Diarrhoea
• Feeling sick or being sick.



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