LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — BA.5 has become the dominant subvariant of COVID-19 in Las Vegas. Health officials are reporting a slight decrease in hospitalizations and cases, but concerns are rising. This subvariant variant is the most transmissible yet.
Karen Connors is a valley resident, and she says she is changing her behaviors and taking extra precautions.
"There are so many people sick in the valley right now, so I’m wearing my mask again," Connors said.
Connors says she is not going anywhere now without it and the new variant of COVID-19, BA.5, is to blame.
"It's scary when I went to get my second shot the pharmacist said the virus has mutated 200 times already," Connors said.
When Karen found out this subvariant is more transmissible than any other COVID-19 variant she went and got her booster and fourth vaccine shot. Dr. Brian Labus, an Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at UNLV says that even if you are vaccinated it has never been easier to get infected with COVID-19. The reason why is BA.5.
"Every time there is a variant it is going to be more contagious than the previous variant because it has to outcompete it," said Dr. Labus.
He says this is the dominant variant in Southern Nevada right now and it's responsible for more than half of the cases in Clark County. This clever variant can evade our current vaccines.
The CDC says BA.5 is at least 20% more infectious than omicron and as contagious as measles, the world’s most infectious viral disease and even if you are fully vaccinated, he says you can still get the virus.
"It can still help protect you, even if you wind up sick, people who are vaccinated tend to have a milder disease,” Labus said.
Doctors say if you plan to go out in large crowds the likelihood of getting this subvariant is high.
For this reason, Karen says going out can wait.
"The show is not going anywhere so we can wait till things calm down again, no concerts indoors, no shows, and trying to be careful," Connors said.
Health experts say an updated vaccine targeting BA.5 is in the works, and we can expect to see it this fall. If you are contemplating, getting vaccinated or boosted health officials say to discuss it with your doctor.