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Letter: New COVID-19 subvariant concerns

‘Will our elected officials reintroduce protective measures?’
Manitoba reported 54 new COVID-19 infections Sept. 9, including seven in the province's north. 35 of the new cases are in people who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

To the Editor, 

I recently had a scare in that a person that I had been interacting with at a social gathering revealed to me that he had Covid the week prior. Luckily, he wasn't contagious when I saw him, a week after showing symptoms, but he did explain how he got it, even though he already had Covid (Omicron strain) 6 months ago. He said he was at a friend's house for dinner, and the friend recently returned from Florida. He said the friend had a conversation with him, and the friend said that he should be careful and wear a mask, to protect himself from Covid.Only the friend manages to infect his entire family and him also, for a total of seven new infections. The wife, children, uncle, etc. all came down. The guy I know was triple vaccinated but he still got the new subvariant (even though he had covid 6 months ago). The new subvariant is resistant to the immunity that was established when everybody was getting sick in Nov/Dec/Jan. 

Bay Today (North Bay), the Provinces and the Federal Government must not allow Covid to spread, and must protect the vulnerable, by doing all that was done in January to stop Omicron. Will our elected officials support the following measures? 

1. Re-introduce mask mandates. BA.5 is very contagious, and the vaccines are not working. Save the elderly and support masks in all indoor places. 

2. Re-introduce limits on indoor seating, and only allow indoor gatherings of up to 10 people. 

3. Close immediately dance clubs, movie theatres, and other highly dense places. 

4. Amp up the triple and quadruple vaccination for the general population.

5. Reinstitute PCR testing for the general population (some provinces like Ontario only make PCRs available for health care workers, rather than for everyone. Most people have to do self-tests and the results are unreported, while PCRs are Covid tests administered by professionals and the results are reported (and contacts are traced for positive results). 

6. Mail everyone a mask that tightly fits around the face. 

7. Close the borders, prevent Canadians from non-essential travel. 

8. Provincial-wide shutdown.

So it came as no surprise that I saw a new report on TV today, that the BA.5 subvariant is now the most common cause of covid, and that Covid cases are 33% higher than before. BA.5 makes up 70% of all new cases, according to this article. Also in that article, the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network predicts a July wave, peaking in August. Today, it was announced that the 7th wave is here, according to this article. In the U.S., one doctor has said that "BA.5 variant is the ‘Houdini’ of COVID", according to this article:

COVID-19 variants keep getting sneakier at slipping past vaccines and natural immunity – meet the latest, evasive forms of the virus: two omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, which now make up a majority of COVID-19 cases around the U.S. Even if you were infected by omicron during last winter’s surge, you can still be re-infected by BA.4 or BA.5 this summer, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UC San Francisco infectious disease expert. “The superpower of BA.4 and BA.5 is, if you had omicron in January, you’re still going to be susceptible to getting BA.4 and BA.5. It’s the escape artist of COVID, the Houdini, because the spike protein looks so different, even (compared) to BA.1. The front guards, the antibodies, are not recognizing it,” Chin-Hong explained. 

Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine, said BA.5 is the “worst version of the virus that we’ve seen.” Topol explained on Twitter, “It takes immune escape, already extensive, to the next level, and, as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility, well beyond Omicron (BA.1) and other Omicron family variants that we’ve seen (including BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, and BA.4).

As for when the end of this pandemic is coming, it is hard to say as every few months a new variant or subvariant comes out that no one has immunity to, despite previous vaccinations and previous Covid infections. There is no end in sight unless you completely shut all foreign entry into the country. 

Bay Today (North Bay), there's more to the story. As for the absurdity that Covid is "just a cold", the person who I am speaking about who contracted Covid could barely speak a sentence without coughing up a lung, even though he had gotten over Covid a week prior. It was hard for him to breathe, the poor guy, he couldn't get the "Covid is just a cold" out of his mouth without struggling. Covid causes damage to the lungs, it is like smoking cigarettes or breathing in car exhaust. The immune system overreacts and destroys organs as it tries to save the person. Other organs like the brain can also be affected, as you can read in this article. It is unknown if BA.5 is physically worse on people than Omicron was. Is Omicron BA.5 ‘Worst Version’ Of Covid-19 Coronavirus Seen?



Robert Nelly