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BA.5 omicron variant believed to be most contagious strain so far as number of re-infections rise

SEATTLE — Officials are warning people to keep their up their guard as a new COVID-19 omicron variant is spreading through the U.S.

BA.5 is believed to be the most contagious strain to date and the concern is the number of people who are getting re-infected.

In King County, there has been a 21% PCR test positivity in the last seven days.

While the symptoms for BA.5 are often mild, a new study tracked nearly 40,000 people had COVID-19 at least twice and found that each re-infection creates a new opportunity for serious health risks.

Research also showed patients with two or more infections had more than twice the risk of dying compared to patients with just one infection, and three times the risk of being hospitalized. They also face higher odds of getting long COVID-19.

“Some people, when they get infected the first time, that infection may weaken their immune system in a way or produce some organ damage that makes them more vulnerable to having adverse consequences or adverse health risks,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

At the beginning of June, BA.5 was idling behind with 4.3% of tested samples in Washington, with BA.2 holding a significant lead. In just four weeks, BA.5 has jumped to 34.7% of cases.

Experts said the best way to protect yourself is to get the vaccine and booster shots. The Food and Drug Administration has asked manufacturers to design a booster shot for the fall that targets the newest omicron variant.

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