This new omicron subvariant has been the cause of many cases in the Midwest, but how concerning is BA.4.6?

Health experts are still mostly unclear about this mutation that first emerged between April and May. It is now responsible for 6.3% of reported cases, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What do we know about omicron subvariant BA.4.6?

Like other omicron strains, the BA.4.6 also has an ability to evade immunity, Dr. Sharon Welbel, the director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control for Cook County Health, told NBC affiliate WMAQ.

“So BA.4.6 is a descendant of omicron BA.4. It does have an additional mutation in the spike protein and as you probably know this spike protein is what helps the virus get into human cells. So it also has the advantage, because of this mutation in the spike protein, to have additional immune escape...” said Welbel. “These newer variants of concern, help the virus itself escape natural immunity, or immunity that we have from vaccines or both.”

If BA.4.6 is highly infectious, will immunity from a BA.5 infection offer any protection? Welbel said it is hard to know right now, adding that “having had natural immunity to BA.5 will help protect us against getting seriously ill or dying from it.”

So, what are the omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, here are the common symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headache.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

But here are the four most commonly reported omicron symptoms, published in a CDC report:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.