VIRUS SPREAD Full list of Covid-19 symptoms to watch for as new BA.4 variant detected in Ireland
BA.4 Covid-19 strain spreads nationwide in Ireland.
Health officials confirmed a second case of the latest variant in Ireland this month.
The new variant may be more transmissible than previous super-strains.
BA.4 and BA.5 were first detected in South Africa in 2022, according to the CDC.
The new variant accounts for 37% of positive cases in Portugal as of May 8, 2022.
Because BA.4 is a mutation of Omicron, symptoms are expected to be similar.
According to the Irish health service, the symptoms include:
- fever – high temperature – 38C or above – including having chills
- dry cough
And in severe cases, health chiefs say people can experience symptoms like:
- shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- loss of appetite
- pain or pressure in the chest
Prof Kingston Mills of Trinity College Immunology doesn’t expect a surge in Ireland.
Three vaccinations and previous infection won’t protect against infection, he said.
He told Newstalk: “This variant was expected, so I’m not worried.
“We shouldn’t be too worried because it mutated further than Omicron and BA.2.
“They’re still fighting infection, but vaccines still protect against it.
“Its dominance in South Africa and likely Portugal means it’s more transmissible than Omicron and BA.2.
“There’s no evidence this one causes more disease, so cases will probably be like Omicra.
“The three vaccine doses won’t prevent infection, I think.
“People who got Omicron would have been protected against reinfection, but not this one.”
VARIANTS OF CONCERN
The WHO’s infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, confirmed this month that BA.4 and BA.5 are variants of concern.
“We don’t know yet how severe BA.4 and BA.5 are,” she said.
BA.4 and BA.5 have growth advantages because they’re more transmissible. Surveillance and sequencing are important.
This virus still evolves, so we must monitor it closely. We’re unsure of its future.
The two strains are more likely to spread because they can evade prior infection and vaccination.