Two new COVID-19 strains are set to take over as the dominant variants in NSW and their names are the BA.4 and BA.5 strain. We agree they’re not the catchiest names in the world but here’s why they’re still important.

“It is anticipated that in coming weeks the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages, first identified in early April, will become the dominant strains,” said a spokesperson for NSW Health as per the ABC.

NSW Health also reckon these new strains “will likely be associated with an increase in infections.”

Honestly, there are more Omicron siblings than Von Trapp siblings at this point.

The the BA.4 and BA.5 strains are also supposed to be “stickier” than previous strains. This is due to changes in the spiked glycoprotein which affect how it engages with cells in our body.

SMH, I wish a medical professional would describe ME as sticky.

“The thing we’re keeping an eye on with BA.5 is that it’s starting to like tissue that pre-Omicron variants like … it likes proteins on the lung,” Kirby Institute virologist Stuart Turville told the ABC.

People are also being urged to get their booster shot to avoid having to make a date with Ms Rona. Or at worst, have an extremely spicy date with her that could’ve been made more lemon and herb by getting a third jab.

“At present, it looks like this will drive a rise in infections similar to what we saw with the BA.2 wave,” said UNSW Associate Professor James Wood as per the Sydney Morning Herald. For context, the peak of the BA.2 wave hit NSW in March.

“BA.4 and BA.5 evade existing immune responses from both infection and vaccination better than previous Omicron subvariants, and that’s why [they have] a transmission advantage,” Wood continued.

“There are several lab studies now showing substantial immune escape.

“This will inevitably increase hospitalisations, although I anticipate muted clinical impacts as protection against severe outcomes should be more robust.”

Sounds like a good enough reason to cop another dose since COVID and other viruses are currently rippin’ through Australia.

Earlier this month, we learned the number of workers on sick leave in May was 50% above average.

This is not only because of Omicron but also because of that pesky flu going around.

Luckily, you can get a vaccine for the flu too! More info on that here.

Image: Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images