A new Covid strain has caused an increase in Covid reinfections and hospitalisations on the east coast. Health authorities suggest that the new strain evades vaccine immunity and expect case numbers to continue rising.
The Victorian department of health revealed on Monday afternoon the Omicron strain BA.4 and BA.5 is likely to overtake the BA.2 strain in coming weeks, after a “significant” increase of detections in wastewater catchments.
NSW Health revealed it expected the same to be true in its latest surveillance report, and in Queensland, chief health officer Dr John Gerrard said BA.4 and BA.5 was expected to be dominant within two weeks.
According to the Victorian department of health, “there is no evidence at this stage” that BA.4 and BA.5 causes more severe disease. However, the department did state that there would be an “increase in cases- including reinfections- and hospital admissions and deaths.”
Authorities have warned, nevertheless, that the strain has a greater ability to evade both immunity from vaccination and past Covid infection.
What suggests that BA.4 and BA.5 will takeover?
According to News.com.au, Victoria first identified BA.4 and BA.5 in wastewater catchments in April and it has risen from under five per cent in late May to 17 per cent by June 23.
On Thursday last week, NSW Health reported that the proportion of specimens in the state likely to be BA.4 or BA.5 “increased substantially” in the week ending June 18.
It was around 31 per cent compared to 23 per cent at the end of the previous week.
Looking overseas, in South Africa – where Omicron was first identified last November and quickly spread globally – a “fifth Covid wave” was recently attributed to BA.4 And BA.5.
This was despite research showing 97 per cent of the population had antibodies due to previous Covid infections or vaccination, Bloomberg reported.