With BA.5 spreading across the US, chances are you've already been infected by the now-dominant Omicron strain, even if you're vaccinated and/or have been previously infected. "The thing about BA.5 that is disconcerting is that it is able to escape some of the immune protection that you get from prior infection, as well as vaccination," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "The good news is that vaccinated and boosted people—particularly those who received the full component of the boosting—are generally pretty well protected against severe disease leading to hospitalization and unfortunately, in some cases to death." Here are five signs you've already had COVID-19, according to Dr. Fauci. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
A sore throat is one of the earliest symptoms of BA.5, and one that Dr. Fauci himself experienced when he got infected. "I think it was on a Wednesday evening, as I was getting ready to go to bed," he told Katie Couric. "I felt a little scratchiness in my throat, and I thought it wasn't a sore throat. But when I woke up in the morning, it was a little bit more severe. I didn't feel sick at all. I just thought, Let me take a test, and it came out strongly positive."
Fatigue is another common symptom of BA.5. "I went on Paxlovid immediately, and over the next 18 hours, I developed a little bit of a sniffle," Dr. Fauci says. "I didn't feel great, but it was mostly fatigue. I went on Paxlovid and the symptoms disappeared within 18 hours. But then I was one of the ones that had a bit of a rebound."
Unexplained brain fog could be a sign of COVID, experts warn, especially if symptoms go on for weeks. "We do know for absolutely certain that there is a post-COVID syndrome," Dr. Fauci says. "Anywhere from 25% to 35%—or more—have lingering symptoms well beyond what you would expect from any post viral syndrome like influenza and others. It's fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, dysautonomia, sleep disturbances and what people refer to as brain fog."
Stuffy Nose and Body Aches
Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to those of flu. "The scope of the seriousness of this infection is extraordinary—from people who get a stuffy nose and a little sore throat and ache, and they get better to people who spend 14 days with a sustained fever and come out wiped out with a postviral dystonia, to people who have serious lung involvement that either puts them in the hospital or creates intubation needs and intensive care," says Dr Fauci.
Vaccinations Are Crucial
Even though being vaccinated won't necessarily stop reinfection, it can help prevent serious complications and hospitalization. "I think I'm an example, given my age, of what we're all talking about today. I'm vaccinated. I'm doubly boosted," Dr. Fauci says. "And I believe if that were not the case, I very likely would not be talking to you looking as well as I look, I think, right now. So, all is well with Fauci, and thank you for asking." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.