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New COVID Sub Variants Lead To Quick Spread

BEND, OR-- Two Omicron sub-variants are contributing to a sudden, rapid spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. "Seems like everyone you know has COVID right now; at least, that’s how I feel," Kaiser Permanente's Chief of Infectious Disease Dr. Katie Sharff tells KBND News. She says BA.4 and BA.5 highly contagious, "They’re just so transmissible; the most transmissible variants we’ve had to date. Similar to measles, in terms of contagiousness. What we know based on measles and based on experience is just limited exposure is enough to get infected, because they’re so contagious."

She says the variants appear resistant to prior immunity, "So, if you’ve previously been vaccinated and fully boosted, that still provides good protection from severe disease and hospitalization, but doesn’t keep you from getting infected." Prior infection is also not providing protection against infection. 

Dr. Sharff is hopeful Omicron-specific boosters will help curb the spread when they become available in the fall. For now, she urges everyone to follow CDC guidelines and isolate if you have symptoms. Overall symptoms - while a little miserable - are relatively mild, although, she says, higher risk people should seek treatment.

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