Scientists detect BA.4, BA.5 omicron subvariants in Bay Area, warn high likelihood of reinfections


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – It used to be that once infected with COVID-19, your body developed enough immunity to stave off another infection for weeks and sometimes even months, but scientists are noticing that the BA.2.12 subvariant .1 of omicron is changing that.

“You don’t have much protection after being infected with BA.1,” said Dr. Warner C. Greene, principal investigator for the Gladstone Institutes.

This means that even if you had COVID, you can still be infected with BA.2.12.1.

“It’s immunosuppressive. It acquires these mutations that make it a stealth virus. We have our immune system primed to try to prevent these infections, but the virus is now learning to evade antibodies. It’s having less success against the T-God thank you,” Dr. Greene said.

VIDEO: Here’s why some people still get COVID even after being vaccinated and double-boosted

Vaccines continue to protect against serious illness and hospitalization, but Dr Greene thinks more people will be re-infected.

“Omicron if its 1 then BA.2 which came next was 30% more infectious. This new subvariant is still 25% more infectious,” Dr Greene said.

BA.2.12.1 nationwide accounts for 56% of new COVID cases. In California, according to the latest modeling, this subvariant accounts for about half of the cases.

Professor Alexandria Boehm of Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering sees this increase in our wastewater.

VIDEO: Sewage data shows how fast COVID is spreading in the Bay Area

“Concentrations appear to be doubling every two weeks,” Professor Boehm said.

Concentration levels show that BA.1 is almost non-existent. BA.2 which includes BA.2.12.1 has taken over.

“In Yolo County, where the concentration in the sewage is now almost as high as it was during the omicron surge in Davis. Then Oceanside in San Francisco has always been kind of a 100-year-old factory for us where things happen first. You can see that levels in Oceanside in sewage are now double what they were two weeks ago,” Prof Boehm said.

Professor Boehm said they also detected omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 in the Bay Area.

“BA.4 and BA.5 were other sublines from omicron which began to emerge in South Africa which took over the BA.2 sub-lines. We detected BA.4 or BA.5 in the water in San Jose,” Professor Boehm said.

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