UNDATED (LEARFIELD) _ Cases of COVID-19 are once again surging and the BA.5 omicron variant is fueling this latest wave.

The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Gregory Poland says this variant is hyper-contagious and is contributing to increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

“Whether you’ve been vaccinated, whether you’ve been previously infected, whether you’ve been previously infected and vaccinated you have very little protection against BA.5 in terms of getting infected or having mild to moderate infection,” said Poland.

He notes though that if vaccinated you have “good protection” against dying, being hospitalized or ending up on a ventilator and adds that at this time it doesn’t appear that there are a higher occurrence of serious effects.

“Right now, we don’t have any evidence that it leads to a higher death rate so that’s good nonetheless among the unvaccinated with this variant they’re about fivefold more likely to get infected than people who have been vaccinated and boosted,” said Poland.

Health officials are calling BA.5 the most infectious COVID variant so far.