A new Covid variant could reinfect people within weeks of contracting the 'most transmissible' virus yet, health experts have warned.

The Omicron BA.5 strain is currently outpacing other variants in infection rates and has become the dominant strain in the US and abroad.

Andrew Roberston, the chief health officer in Western Australia, told News.com.au that even though it was believed people would retain a level of protection against reinfection if they were vaccinated or had recently contracted the virus, this hasn’t been the case with the most recent strain.

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“What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks,” the doctor said.

He added: “So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that’s almost certainly BA.4 or BA.5.”

The ability for strains BA.4 and BA.5 to reinfect individuals who would in previous waves of Covid-19 had stronger immunity has led some experts to start calling this latest strain the most transmissible yet.

“They’re taking over, so clearly they’re more contagious than earlier variants of omicron,” said David Montefiori, a professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center, in an interview with NBC News.

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Federal estimates released by the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention show that BA.5 has now taken over as the dominant strain in the US, accounting for approximately 88.8% of cases.

Despite the average daily cases recorded in the US being around 112,000, experts fear that a combination of home testers not reporting positive cases, a closure of government-funded testing centres and states stopping their daily data updates has hampered their capacity to see how this strain is developing.

Though experts believe that these current strains will likely fuel new waves, they did note that vaccines will provide partial immunity and can still protect against potentially more severe infections.

"Our data suggest that these new Omicron subvariants will likely be able to lead to surges of infections in populations with high levels of vaccine immunity as well as natural BA1 and BA2 immunity," Dr Dan Barouch told CNN.

"It is likely that vaccine immunity will still provide substantial protection against severe disease with BA4 and BA5”, he added.

Because of this, vaccines that many received in the past 18 months will likely need not only a boost, but an update.

The Federal Drug Administration has recommended that Covid vaccine makers, namely Pfizer and Moderna, begin modifying what they currently have on offer so that their booster shots can more accurately target the BA.4 and BA.5 variants and estimated that these shots could become available as early as mid-autumn.


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