New Covid variant warning as BA.5 strain can reinfect you after just FOUR weeks

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PEOPLE who have already had Omicron variant are at risk of catching it again just four weeks after getting the bug, experts have warned.

TWO strains of Omicron that originated in South Africa have been labelled Covid “variants of concern”, health officials have revealed.

Variant BA4 and variant BA5 may be able to evade vaccines and are likely to dominate Europe’s Covid cases, The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned in a report.

Concerns are now rocketing that the new variants will lead to a massive uptick in cases across the continent this summer.

The ECDC said: “The presence of these variants could cause a significant overall increase in Covid-19 cases in the EU/EEA in the coming weeks and months. 

Omicron BA.5 variant is believed to be more resistant to antibodies, meaning prior infection won’t protect you.

Covid cases have been relatively low thanks to the mammoth roll out of vaccines across the UK.

The Omicron variant was also found to be a milder, less dangerous strain of the bug, with most people suffering with cold and flu-like symptoms.

Millions of Brits have had two doses plus a booster, with even more now also having had Spring boosters to fight the bug.

In the UK BA.4 and BA.5 are on their way to becoming the dominant strains of the illness.

Medics have said that infections from these strains are even milder, despite the likelihood of faster reinfection.

Cases of the strain having been rising across the globe.

Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) revealed that BA.5 is growing 35.1 per cent faster than Omicron BA.2, while Omicron BA.4 is growing approximately 19.1 per cent faster.

Andrew Robertson Western Australia’s chief health officer said the new variants are even infecting people who have had a jab.

“What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA2 variant and then becoming infected (again) after four weeks.

“So maybe six to eight weeks (later) they are developing a second infection and that’s almost certainly either BA4 or BA5,” he told news.au.com.

Just last month a study at Imperial College London confirmed that many people were no longer immune to the bug.

Professor Danny Altmann, from Imperial’s Department of Immunology and Inflammation, said: “Not only can it break through vaccine defences, it looks to leave very few of the hallmarks we’d expect on the immune system.

“It’s more stealthy than previous variants and flies under the radar, so the immune system is unable to remember it.”

Cases have been slowly climbing in the UK as Brits learn to live without restrictions being in place.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Clinical Programmes at the UKHSA said cases and hospitalisations are rising in all age groups.

She said: “There is likely to be a substantial amount of waning immunity in older people who have not taken up the booster on schedule, so we can expect these rises to continue over the coming weeks and throughout July.

“It’s reassuring that 79.8 per cent of people aged 75 and over in June have had a vaccine in the past 6 months but we urge the remaining 16 per cent to get their spring booster as soon as possible to help protect against serious illness – preliminary analysis shows that the vaccine is continuing to protect against severe illness and remains the best defence against severe disease and hospitalisation.

“This includes anyone who had their last vaccine more than 6 months ago, as well as those living in care homes or who are clinically vulnerable.”

Dr Ramsay added that vaccination remains the best defence against severe disease.

“Remember that Covid-19 has not gone away and we should all keep up good hand and respiratory hygiene.

“It is also sensible to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces.

“If you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection, and a high temperature or feel unwell, try to stay at home or away from others – especially elderly or vulnerable people,” she said.

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