Can You Get Omicron BA.5 Outdoors?

The Omicron subvariant BA.5 has swiftly become the predominant COVID-19 variant in the United States. Early in May, BA.5 caused just a tiny fraction of cases in the CDC’s variation tracker, but by the end of the month, it was responsible for roughly 54% of cases in the United States.

Many people are curious if you may get BA.5 outdoors given how swiftly it has spread and that it did so during the warmer months. The short answer, according to experts in infectious diseases, is yes, but the situation is a little more convoluted than that. The following information will help you prevent illness in yourself and your loved ones.

  • COVID- In the US, the 19 Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading quickly.
  • The highly contagious subvariants may result in different advice on the risk of outdoor transmission.
  • Infectious disease specialists are unsure as of yet whether BA.5 is as contagious as measles, which is regarded as the most contagious virus known to man.

How can you get BA.5 outdoor?

Yes, BA.5 can be acquired abroad, but Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and director of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York, adds that other COVID variations can also be acquired elsewhere. He claims that being outside has never been entirely safe. “There is no doubt that you have a lot lower chance of contracting an infection outside than you do inside. However, you still run the danger of contracting an infection if you spend an extended period of time in close proximity to another person. The chance of contracting Omicron ultimately depends on your proximity to an infected person as well as the airflow and ventilation of the environment you’re in. Virus spreads swiftly outside and doesn’t gradually permeate a space like it does in poorly ventilated indoor environments, according to Dr. Russo.

Dr. Russo cites elements including the lack of wind in the outdoor region and the infectiousness of the variant materials. Compared to prior Omicron subvariants, BA.5 is more transmissible, in our opinion. Consequently, BA.5 is more likely to be found outside than other COVID variants like Delta or even other types of Omicron (such Stealth Omicron).

Although BA.5 hasn’t been extensively researched, William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease expert and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, claims that it is “the most contagious variation we’ve had so far.” It seems sense that, in some cases, if you have a spreader at your BBQ party, they might be able to spread it to others outside, the man said.

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What outdoor environments are most dangerous?

The most worrisome situations, according to Dr. Russo, are those in which people are closely huddled and around one another for an extended period of time. These may consist of:

  • Outdoor concerts
  • Outdoor movies
  • Festivals
  • Barbecues
  • Outdoor bars
  • Sports games

You run the danger, according to Dr. Schaffner, if you attend large outdoor gatherings where lots of people are packed close together for an extended period of time.

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What is the BA.5 subvariant?

A subvariant of the extremely contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant is known as BA.5. The CDC has classified it as a variation of concern (along with other Omicron variants). According to Dr. Russo, it has a number of mutations in its spike protein that make it easier for it to transmit between people.

In comparison to earlier Omicron subvariants, it “appears to be more infectious” and “able to evade vaccine-induced or prior infection-induced immunity to a greater degree.” He adds that it’s not yet apparent whether BA.5 causes more severe disease than the other subvariants.

Furthermore, although some people have claimed that BA.5 is as contagious as measles, which is thought to be the most contagious virus known to man, infectious disease specialists aren’t yet sure. According to Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “I don’t think any highly reliable likening to measles contagiousness can be made—not there’s enough data at this point and I don’t believe we have the nearly 100% attack rate seen with measles or its degree of airborne transmission.”

Doctor Schaffner concurs. Although there is an engaging debate, he notes that there are no immediate solutions. Although we still believe that the measles is the most contagious virus we are aware of, BA.5 is closing in.

How to defend yourself against BA.5?

Although COVID-19 outdoor transmission in low-risk environments is “generally uncommon,” Dr. Adalja asserts that it is currently challenging to avoid the virus.

By getting vaccinated and getting boosted if at high risk, the aim is to reduce serious illness, he claims. High-risk individuals should also consider using masks in crowded spaces, getting tested before interacting with them, receiving Evusheld, and having a plan in place for Paxlovid and/or monoclonal antibodies if they test positive. (Evusheld is a combination of two human monoclonal antibodies called tixagevimab and cilgavimab that are used to prevent COVID-19, in case you’re not familiar with it.)

Dr. Russo advises being wary of crowds if you’re at high risk for COVID-19 complications or simply don’t want to get sick. “You want to avoid situations where people aren’t wearing masks in indoor settings,” he advises. “And you’ll want to wear a high-quality mask in outdoor settings where you’ll be in close proximity with people for a long period of time,” the author continued.

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