As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic is constantly evolving as new variants, vaccines and knowledge about the virus continues to evolve. As the world is still trying to adapt to the current variation, new ones constantly appear and require immediate adjustment to understand its similarities and differences. The latest variant is a sub-variant of the original Omicron variant: BA.5, also known as the Ninja Kovid variant. What many experts have to say about this variant is that it is very dangerous: this variant is one of the worst ever. Read on to learn more about this developing story and the current facts we now know about the Ninja Covid variant.
The BA.5 subvariant was first identified in virus samples in South Africa in February. It took only a few months for it to become the dominant variant in both Europe and Israel. This led to an increase in the number of daily global Covid cases to around 820,000 per week by June.
Many experts say this variant is by far the most contagious. The way the infectious nature of this variant works is by blocking antibodies that are already present in our immune systems. This means more breakthrough cases and repeated infections for many.
According to Irwin Redlener, founding director of the National Center at Columbia University, the growth of these highly infectious strains has been a trend with the coronavirus since the pandemic began in 2020. Disaster preparedness. “Now the development of variations is a freight train” Redlener says.
With the BA.5 sub-variant dominating the US, there has been an optimistic outlook over the past few weeks in the US. Cases have not increased dramatically and still average around 100,000 daily. But many predict that this could take a turn in the coming week as the BA.5 subvariant continues to spread.
According to Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, what makes this variant so infectious is the difference in its structure. Its spike protein is completely different from the previous types. “The BA.5 is very different and highly relevant, marking a significant difference from all previous variants” Tobol says.
BA.5 managed to evade immunity built up by past infections and vaccines, thus earning its nickname Ninja Covid. But experts say vaccines and boosters are still the best defense against this new, insidious variant.
Because vaccines developed targeting Omicron are still effective against its sub-variants such as BA.5. “The stimulus of the original gene or even a recent infection [produce] Some cross-protective antibodies to reduce the severity of infection with the new omicron subtype,” says Eric Ports, an Alaska-Anchorage virologist and public health expert.
Now experts are wondering when a specific BA.5 booster will be available and if it will arrive on time. By the time it develops, there is a possibility that a new strain will emerge and become dominant. “Variant-chasing is a flawed approach,” Topol offers. “By the time the PA.5 vaccine booster is available, who knows what the dominant strain will be?”
While it appears we’re far from being free of COVID, some experts say it’s likely to stick around for a long time. “Covid is becoming like the flu,” said Ali Moqdad, professor of health metrology at the University of Washington Institute for Health.