Got COVID More Than Once? Researchers Find New Omicron Subvariants Causing Reinfections

The Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, have become dominant across the country and researchers say the strains appear to be among the most contagious

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The majority of Northern and Central California counties, and now Ventura County, meet the CDC's criteria for having a high COVID-19 community level. Experts point to the new omicron subvariants as the culprit for these new infections, and are warning people they're not off the hook if they've recently had COVID-19.

"The virus is going to keep mutating, you know, we're throwing up roadblocks and it's finding a way around it," said Dr. Sumit Chanda. "This is what viruses do, the job of a virus is to go viral."

The subvariants are now responsible for 70% of new coronavirus cases, and their immunity to existing vaccines has concerned scientists. Here’s what you need to know about the subvariants.

Dr. Chanda is a professor at Scripps Research La Jolla in the immunology and microbiology department. He explains how BA.4 and BA.5 are the new subvariants of Omicron that are easily infecting and re-infecting people. Some call these strains "ultra-contagious."

"Through the pandemic, I've had to test a lot, like, I've lost count on how many times I've tested," said Shannon Taylor.

Taylor fought COVID-19 during the holidays. She and her two kids tested positive and had to skip out on Christmas with the rest of their family. She says she's had friends test positive for the virus twice.

"Which is crazy because I know people that got COVID around the same time I did and now they're getting it again, and so it felt like for a while we had a little bit of a safety net, but now that I'm seeing my friends getting COVID for a second, third time, the reality is, you know, we could get it again," she said.

Dr. Chanda says if you have been boosted or if you had a recent infection, it's unlikely that you're going to get severe disease.

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