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How Long Are You Contagious with Omicron BA1, 2, 3, and 4-5?

August 01, 2022

How Long Are You Contagious with Omicron BA1, 2, 3, and 4-5?

The coronavirus has been around since late 2019, with new variants continually emerging. The pandemic has made a significant impact on public health systems around the world, including the development of vaccinations and testing systems based on testing, quarantine and isolation, and testing again. 

One of the more confusing aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is understanding the number of new COVID-19 variants that appear. Aside from the challenges that the coronavirus poses to everyday life, it can feel overwhelming to learn how to deal with these new variants. You may wonder if you might be at risk for being exposed to or still susceptible to infection even if you’re fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The I.V. Doc, a premiere intravenous fluid, health, and wellness service, deeply cares about your wellbeing. We offer a range of intravenous fluid hydration services for those days that you are feeling sick, jet-lagged, or are experiencing the unpleasantness of a hangover. 

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have offered high-quality COVID-19 testing services available to you in the comfort of your home. Between rapid tests, PCR tests for travel, and group testing for your friends and family, The I.V. Doc has all of your COVID-19 testing needs conveniently covered. 

We also care about how informed you are about the most relevant and pressing information about the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why we’ve put together this article about Omicron and its variants, to help you be the most informed you can be to better make decisions about your health and your risk of COVID infection. 

What Is the Omicron Variant of Coronavirus?

First identified in South Africa and Botswana in November of 2021, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus soon beat out earlier variants and became the dominant variant of COVID-19. Omicron, and its sub-variants BA.1, 2, 3, and 4-5. These mutations are shown to have higher rates of transmission, shorter incubation periods, and a less severe cluster of symptoms. 

Is Omicron More Deadly Than the Delta Variant?

One of the more important issues to emerge as Omicron and its strains have spread across the globe is whether it is more deadly than the original coronavirus and the Delta variant. Though it has a higher rate of infection and a shorter incubation period, the symptoms of Omicron are, on average, markedly less severe than those of Delta and the original coronavirus. 

Since Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are highly transmissible – more transmissible than previous Omicron suvariants, it’s still incredibly important to be as careful as possible when it comes to exposure and transmission. 

What Are the Symptoms of Omicron?

Omicron BA.5 is currently the dominant coronavirus variant, yielding a relatively high transmission rate and similar symptoms to the original COVID-19 viral strain. Symptoms of COVID-19 micron BA.5 include cough, fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, loss of taste, and runny nose. Severe symptoms in COVID-19 cases include shortness of breath and loss of speech or movement.

Broadly, the cluster of symptoms that have come to dominate the Omicron sub-variants more closely resemble a bad cold than they do the flu. However, if you are someone who is immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or have a weakened immune system, you may experience more significant symptoms and have a higher risk of a more severe infection. 

Why Pay Attention to Omicron Sub-variants Incubation Period? 

With the Omicron variant, it’s really about paying attention to the incubation period. Why is this? 

Since the incubation period with Omicron is significantly shorter than other variants within the coronaviru pandemic, it means that you get infected – and sick– more quickly. The incubation period is specifically the period of time between when you are exposed to infection and when you start exhibiting symptoms. 

So how long is the Omicron incubation period? According to the CDC, the incubation period of Omicron is around 73 hours, or roughly 3 days. Across this published study, it was revealed that there was some variance – with people exhibiting symptoms sooner and later than that 73 hour window. However, the majority of people included in the study developed symptoms within that 73-hour window.

Distinguishing Omicron BA1, 2, 3, and 4-5

There are many subvariants, so it can be difficult to stay informed and up-to-date about which one you need to pay attention to. One of the most important things to remember is that Omicron is the dominant strain of the coronavirus at present, and sub-variant BA.5 is the one currently driving infection rates. 

Omicron BA.5 is the most easily transmissible variant of the coronavirus yet, exhibiting simi of lar symptoms to other sub-variants of Omicron. The cluster of symptoms that we’ve overviewed are pretty similar among all the Omicron variants. 

A runny nose, fatigue, fever, cough, and congestion are the symptoms to look out for with all of the variants, which means that symptoms alone can’t help you distinguish between Omicron sub-variants.

How Can You Tell Between Omicron Sub-Variants?

Here’s the thing: it’s less important, at present, to distinguish between the Omicron sub-variants, since each sub-variant rolls out from the previous one. Up until May 2022, Omicron BA.1, BA.1.12, and BA.2 were the dominant subvariants of Omicron. 

According to the COVID data tracker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, these three sub-variants made up the majority of coronavirus infections. It wasn’t until June that Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 emerged as significant strains to watch out for. 

So, the main priority is not necessarily to distinguish between which sub-variant you may have been infected with, it’s more about staying informed about which variant is currently the most dominant and where infection rates are spreading. 

Paying Attention to Omicron BA. 2, BA.4, and BA.5

The three Omicron sub-variants that you want to pay attention to this summer are BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5. As of now, these three sub-variants comprise the majority of Omicron infections. With BA.5 responsible for 65% of current infections, Omicron BA.5 is currently the major sub-variant that has emerged in the past month. 

Omicron variants BA.2 and BA.4 show similar rates of infection with BA.2 responsible for 17% of current infections, and BA.4 responsible for 16%. These top three sub-variants of Omicron are more easily transmissible than other sub-variants, and have shorter incubation periods – which means that the time between close contact with an infected person and when someone would experience symptoms is markedly shorter than previous variants. 

Getting Tested for Omicron BA.5

With shorter incubation periods, a faster onset of symptoms, and higher infectiousness, getting tested should be a top priority. Whether you’re seeking to get tested for travel, to ensure that you haven’t been exposed to Omicron, or getting a negative test is part of your routine health and wellness plan, The I.V. Doc wants you to feel as empowered as possible.

You can take PCR (laboratory), rapid, or antigen tests for Omicron, but you may choose a rapid test to get quick, effective results about whether you have a positive test or not. Our Rapid COVID-19 at-home test can be booked same-day, and is delivered to you in the comfort of your home by one of our registered nurses. 

We don’t think you should have to wait days to get tested for Omicron, which is why we’ve made the process effortless. Simply go online, book an at-home Rapid test, and one of our registered nurses will be to you that day. You’ll have results from your anterior nasal swab, and be able to work with one of our physicians to come up with next steps. 

The Bottom Line 

Don’t be confused by the different sub-variants of Omicron. Here’s the recap of what you really need to know about keeping yourself as informed and safe as possible this summer. 

Omicron sub-variants BA.5, BA.2, and BA.4 are the most prominent forms of Omicron, respectively. They all exhibit similar symptoms, which include runny nose, fever, congestion, and cough – all cold-like symptoms– but are distinct in their transmission rates. 

Omicron BA.5 is currently the most infectious, and is spreading more quickly than any other coronavirus variant or sub-variant. While it’s death rates are lower, higher transmission rates means that it can spread much more quickly than the other variants. 

Stay up-to-date on information about the coronavirus, particularly sub-variant BA.5, and continue to protect yourself from infection.

In order to best protect yourself from Omicron BA.5, maintain physical distancing, be sure to get tested regularly, and get tested immediately if you suspect that you have been exposed to someone with Omicron. At The I.V. Doc, we will continue to offer premiere Covid-19 testing services, delivered to you same-day in the privacy of your home. 

Whether you are traveling for work, visiting family, or are looking for rapid test results to figure out whether you have been exposed to infection, The I.V. Doc has you covered. 

Book a testing appointment with us online, and expect same-day service with one of our registered nurses traveling to your location to provide you with testing. 


Omicron and BA.5: A Guide to What We Know | Yale Medicine

CDC COVID Data Tracker | CDC

What You Need to Know About Variants | CDC

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