Here we go once more: Since early July, COVID-19 hospital admissions in the United States have increased in a manner similar to the previous three summers. This summer’s increase in new hospitalizations may be worrisome in the absence of an updated vaccine, but the number of patients is significantly lower than it was previously. Examining what we know:
HOW DANGEROUS IS THE PIKE?
For the week ending July 29, there were 9,056 COVID-19 hospital admissions. This represents a 12 percent increase from the previous week. It is, however, a far departure from previous maxima, such as the 44,000 weekly hospital admissions in early January, the nearly 45,000 in late July 2022, and the 150,000 admissions during the omicron surge in January 2022.
Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated, “It is increasing slightly, but there is no cause for alarm.” It is probable that infections are also on the rise, but data are scarce. In May, federal authorities terminated the public health emergency; consequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a number of states no longer monitor the number of positive test results.
WHAT CONCERNS DEATHS?
Since early June, approximately 500 to 600 persons per week have perished. The number of fatalities appears stable this summer, whereas in the past, increases in deaths have lingered behind increases in hospitalizations.
HOW DO WE SEARCH FOR THE VIRUS?
Since late June, the quantity of the COVID-19 virus in sewage water has increased across the nation. As people return from summer vacation and pupils return to school in the coming weeks, health officials say they will closely monitor effluent levels. Northeastern and southern regions have higher COVID-19 concentrations in wastewater, according to Cristin Young, an epidemiologist at Biobot Analytics, the CDC’s wastewater surveillance contractor.
“It is essential to keep in mind that the concentrations are still relatively low,” Young said, adding that they are approximately 2.5 times lower than last summer. And while one version of omicron, EG.5, is becoming more prevalent, no single variant of the virus is predominating. The variant has been given the unofficial moniker “eris,” but scientists do not use it.
“There are a few we’re monitoring, but nothing like delta or omicron,” Young said, referring to variants that fueled previous epidemics. And mutations do not necessarily make the virus more harmful. Dowdy stated, “Just because we have a new subvariant does not mean that negative outcomes will increase.”
WHEN WILL A NEW VACCINE BE AVAILABLE?
This autumn, officials anticipate the release of updated COVID-19 vaccines containing the XBB.1.5 version of the omicron strain. It is a significant departure from current combination injections, which combine the original coronavirus strain with the most prevalent omicron variants from the previous year.
It is unclear when individuals can begin rolling up their sleeves for what officials hope will be an annual autumn COVID-19 vaccination. Pfizer, Moderna, and the smaller manufacturer Novavax are all developing concentrations of the XBB update, but the FDA must approve each one before the CDC can issue recommendations for their use.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expects that COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered at pharmacies and workplaces, rather than at dedicated locations established early in the pandemic as part of the emergency response.
Cohen told The Associated Press last week, “This will be our first fall and winter season since the end of the public health emergency, and I think we all recognize that we are living with COVID, influenza, and RSV.” The positive news, however, is that we have more instruments than ever before.
Source: ABC News