The number of people infected with the latest variant of COVID is being under-reported

The variant, called BA.5, has found a way to work around vaccines and previous exposures to deliver flu-like symptoms.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Masks worn in public crowds were once a requirement, but now they are seen infrequently.

This is happening at a time when a new variant of COVID-19 , challenges the notion that we are safe from getting infected. The variant, called BA.5, has found a way to work around vaccines and previous exposures to deliver flu-like symptoms.

“This variant, the latest iteration of Omicron, the BA.5 seems to live in the upper chest, back of the throat and sinuses. Instead of more down low in the lungs like the previous ones,” Dr Mary Rademaker, Norton Immediate Care Executive Medical Director said. “They’ll complain of a severe sore throat, also accompanied by a severe headache and they typically develop nasal congestion.”

And more people are getting sick than you might think. Most people choose to ride it out without going to a doctor, replying on home testing. As a result, underreporting has become a problem.

”We are underestimating the amount of COVID-19 in our community. There’s no doubt about that,” Dr. Jeff Howard, Louisville Metro Health Interim Director said. “And that’s occurring not only in the Louisville Metro area, that’s occurring everywhere in the US.”

Wastewater testing has confirmed BA.5 is the dominant strain in the Louisville Metro. The number of reported cases and the number of hospitalizations however do not match the prevalence of the virus in the city’s sewers.

The next variant could produce even greater discrepancies.

”They become more transmissible and they’re more contagious than the previous version,” UofL infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Burns said. “That’s why we should always be concerned.”

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