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'Highly infective variant': Expert weighs on new BA.5 omicron variant

Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher joined 9NEWS to talk about the new BA.5 omicron variant, which he says is now the most prevalent variant in the US.

DENVER — The BA.5 omicron variant is now the most common variant in the US and a highly infectious variant, according to Dr. Gonzalez-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza. 

Omicron's BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants now account for just over half of new infections in the US according to the Associated Press and have prompted the FDA to advise vaccine manufacturers to modify booster doses to better match the most recent variants of the virus.

"We have been seeing all these mutations on the spike protein changing and teasing the immune system in a way that now even people who are vaccinated, who were infected prior to COVID-19, can get this variant easier," Gonzalez-Fisher said.

But despite the high infectivity and prevalence of the BA.5 omicron variant, González-Fisher said the best defense people have against these mutants is the COVID-19 vaccine. 

He believes that "vaccines remain effective" and he said they "still tend to prevent hospitalization and death from this variant [BA.5]."  

"The only vaccines that don't work,' he said, "are the ones we don't get." 

Gonzalez-Fisher also recommends that people continue to use common sense when it comes to protecting themselves and helping stop the spread of the virus. He said people should still practice social distancing and wear a mask.  

“Take care of yourself, wash your hands, keep your distance, put on your mask,” González-Fisher said. “If you have symptoms, get tested. And if it's positive, stay home." 

González-Fisher said a new variant that has emerged in India and appeared in other parts of the world, including the US, is a cause for concern and is being monitored. He said that it is no longer variant five but BA.2.75.

“This variant has been found to have the ability for one infected person to infect 18 people, it is highly transmissible,” he said. 

González-Fisher said that's why other parts of the world are seeing an increase in cases of this disease, as seen in the US, Asia, Europe and Australia.  

Servicios De La Raza, the state's largest nonprofit serving Latinos, will continue to offer its vaccination clinic each week on Thursdays. 

It will be available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the organization, which is located at 3131 W. 14th Ave. Appointments are not required but are recommended. People can call 303-458-5851 to make an appointment.

This month, in honor of BIPOC Mental Health Month, Servicios de La Raza’s Behavioral Health Department will host The Five Senses: Holistic Health Festival July 23 .

Attendees can expect to be introduced to various healing modalities in a safe and immersive experience with activities that include yoga, aromatherapy, health screenings, limpias, and other holistic cultural practices.  

This is a free event and it will be held at 1501 W 38th Ave. in Denver from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Servicios mobile vaccine clinic will also be on site.

No form of identification, Social Security number or health insurance is required to get vaccinated. 

RELATED: Expert offers 'simple' tips to elevate mental health

RELATED: Q&A: How effective are omicron-specific boosters?


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