An immunologist has warned the new strain of Covid could cause various symptoms – including one that occurs at night.
Omicron BA.5 is a highly contagious subvariant that is of concern as it contributes to a new wave of infections across the world, including the UK.
Scientists have noted differences from previous strains, including the ability to reinfect people within weeks of contracting Covid.
A leading immunologist has now suggested it could be causing a new symptom in patients.
“An additional symptom of BA.5 that I saw this morning is night sweats,” Professor Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin told Irish radio station earlier this week.
“Isn’t that weird?” he added.
BA.5, along with BA.4, is leading to a rise in cases in a number of countries including across Europe and Australia. It also became the dominant variation in the US this week.
“The disease is a little different because the virus has changed,” Prof O’Neill told Newstalk on Thursday.
He added: “There’s some immunity to it – obviously with the T-cells and whatnot – and that mix of your immune system and the virus, which is a little different, could lead to a slightly different disease, oddly enough with night sweats being a trait is .
“But very importantly, if you get vaccinated and boosted, it doesn’t result in serious illness, the message is to keep reminding people.”
BA.5 was first spotted in South Africa in February, a month after BA.4 was identified in the same country. Both have since spread around the world, raising concerns of a resurgence in Covid infections.
It comes as Covid cases in the UK are up nearly 20 per cent, according to new estimates, with around 2.7 million people infected last week.
The surge continues to be driven by Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, said the Office for National Statistics, whose latest data shows 1 in 25 people in England had contracted Covid in the week ending June 29.
That equates to 2.7 million infections – an 18 percent increase from 2.3 million the previous week.
That’s the highest estimate since late April, but is still below the record high of 4.9 million hit in late March.