The Omicron BA.2 subvariant is still on the rise in many parts of the world, with symptoms overlapping with those of cold, flu, and allergies—so without testing, it may be tough to know if you’ve had the virus. “I do think it’s possible we’ll have an increased number of cases,” says Dennis Cunningham, MD, System Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Henry Ford Health. “I do not think it’s going to be as bad as the other surges we’ve had. Between the vaccines and the number of people already infected with COVID previously, especially in the past few months, I expect most people will either have no symptoms or very mild symptoms.” Here are five signs you have already had BA.2, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Was It a Cold or BA.2?
Symptoms of BA.2 are very similar to a cold, so if you felt under the weather recently it could have been BA.2. “People tend to have more sore throats. They may have sinus congestion and headaches,” says Dr. Clay Marsh. “But at least in South Africa, where we really documented the Omicron variant the most completely, about 40% or so of those infections were relatively asymptomatic.”
Not the Usual Symptoms
BA.2 symptoms tend not to include the more ‘usual’ COVID-19 symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, experts say. “We observe a different clinical presentation of symptoms in those infected with Omicron compared to Delta,” says Dr. Cristina Menni, from King’s College London. “As we are moving even further away from the average patient having UK government ‘approved symptoms,’ ie fever, persistent cough, loss of smell, our results point to a different selection of symptoms that may indicate infection. To protect others, it is still important to self-isolate for 5 days as soon as you see any symptoms.”
If you experienced unexplained dizziness or fatigue recently it could be BA.2, according to health company ZOE, which runs a COVID-19 symptom tracking app. “One in 20 new cases had this variant last week, and as it’s doubling every few days this should predominate within a month,” says lead scientist Professor Tim Spector. “The ZOE data has also seen more confirmed reinfections in recent weeks with around 7% of new symptomatic cases having previously tested positive, suggesting a natural infection with Delta may not offer much protection.”
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Symptoms Didn’t Stick Around For Long
Did you only experience symptoms for a short while? Experts say most people with BA.2 tend to have a shorter illness. “The good news is that most vaccinated infections are mild, with symptoms lasting on average for a shorter time overall than Delta and with less severe cases,” Spector says. “It’s clear that COVID and its new variants will continue to have an impact on our day-to-day lives for some time. It’s crucial that we’re responsible with our new freedoms and help to keep case numbers down and prevent the virus from reaching the more vulnerable groups.”
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BA.2 Cases Are Rising
Doctors are reporting a rise in BA.2 cases, but without increased hospitalizations. “We are starting to see a steady increase in cases,” says Dr. Amaal Tokars, acting director for the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Hospitalization in most places continues to be stable. We are seeing some just some bubbling up here and there and that’s important to keep an eye on, but overall stable. Death continues to be stable. Again, here in Illinois, we are seeing these rising cases and a context of much lower cases than we had seen in the winter. But still notable and important to point out.”
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face maskdon’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’ t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.