One expert reckons the latest variant of Covid-19 could see people get sicker with the virus for even longer than previous strains.
American physician Dr Eric Topol has dubbed the BA.5 strain of coronavirus as the 'worst variant we have seen so far' and has raised concerns over the variant's extreme 'immune evasion and transmissibility'.
He said his research indicates that the BA.5 strain has a 'far better ability to get into cells' and had similarities to the infectious Delta strain of the Covid-19 virus, which produced severe symptoms and higher rates of hospitalisation.
"The ability to infect cells for BA.5 is more akin to Delta than the previous Omicron family of variants," Dr Topol wrote in his newsletter Ground Truths.
Despite Dr Topol's concerns over BA.5's likeness to the Delta strain, he did say it was too early to tell if the BA.5 variant produced a more severe version of the disease.
He said it was 'still unclear, but possible given its Delta-like cell infectivity feature'.
He did concede, going off initial reports of the new BA.5 strain, that this is likely.
Australia's Health Minister Mark Butler has warned Aussies against being complacent when it comes to Covid-19, revealing that vaccinated people were 'still susceptible' to the more aggressive variants of the illness.
"They’re even more infectious than the earlier sub-variants that drove the summer wave, the BA.1 wave in January and the BA.2 wave in April and May,"’ he said, as per news.com.au.
"What is particularly unique and different around BA.4 and BA.5, they’re very good at evading people’s immunity."
Covid-19 cases have jumped by 30 per cent internationally in the last fortnight, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus put the rise in cases down to a drop in monitoring, testing, and sequencing of the virus.
"Sub-variants of Omicron, like BA.4 and BA.5, continue to drive waves of cases, hospitalisation and death around the world," he told a press conference.
"Surveillance has reduced significantly – including testing and sequencing – making it increasingly difficult to assess the impact of variants on transmission, disease characteristics, and the effectiveness of countermeasures."
He also said that the fight against Coronavirus isn't close to being done.
"New waves of the virus demonstrate again that the COVID-19 is nowhere near over," he said.
"As the virus pushes at us, we must push back."
Featured Image Credit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo. STANCA SANDA / Alamy Stock Photo.