COVID circumstances are up — however that does not imply what it used to imply. Consultants clarify methods to navigate this summer time’s uptick and what to anticipate this fall.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
It’s a truth. COVID circumstances are up once more. The CDC is describing it as an uptick after a protracted interval of declining charges. There may be additionally a brand new omicron variant on the rise. So how will we make sense of what’s going on on this fourth summer time of residing with COVID? NPR’s Pien Huang is right here to clarify. Hey, Pien.
PIEN HUANG, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.
KELLY: Hello. I am depressed to even be speaking about this. How are we speaking about this? It appears like this isn’t a wave essentially. What are you calling it?
HUANG: Yeah. I imply, it is – I am in the identical boat as you. It isn’t a wave, however I am calling it extra of a summer time swell. And it is displaying up within the nationwide knowledge from wastewater surveillance, which – the place you may see that the virus ranges have been going up prior to now month in each area. Here is how Dr. Celine Gounder put it. She’s an infectious illness specialist and a senior fellow at KFF.
CELINE GOUNDER: Yeah. This isn’t actually a surge, and so it is not dismissing that COVID is a risk. It is that you need to know when to sound the alarms and when to not.
HUANG: So by the CDC numbers this week, there’s been a 12.5% improve in individuals getting hospitalized with COVID. However well being consultants do stress that that also implies that hospitalizations are close to an all-time low. So Gounder says that that is undoubtedly one thing to look at, but it surely’s not one thing to panic over. Whereas the dangers are extra critical for some, there are instruments which are out there to assist.
KELLY: The dangers are extra critical for some. Who ought to be extra involved now?
HUANG: Yeah. Yeah. So there are some those who have an actual elevated threat of hospitalization and demise, even when they have been vaccinated. So this consists of the aged, people who find themselves immunocompromised, individuals who dwell in nursing houses, people who find themselves pregnant, infants. And now as circumstances are going up, they may need to take into consideration doing issues which may mitigate the dangers, like avoiding crowds, perhaps sporting a masks once they’re grocery purchasing or touring, utilizing air filters in rooms, spending extra time exterior if they are going to hang around with individuals. And, after all, you realize, the individuals who dwell with them, go to them, spend time with them – they may additionally need to be taking precautions, too.
KELLY: And this new variant we talked about – what will we find out about it?
HUANG: So the brand new variant that persons are speaking about now known as EG.5. It is a subvariant of omicron. So which means it is nonetheless actually carefully associated to what’s been circulating since early 2022, and it is grow to be extra dominant over the previous few months. So proper now it is estimated to be accountable in 17% of circumstances. Here is how Dr. Mandy Cohen, head of the CDC, talked in regards to the variants this week. She spoke on the podcast “In The Bubble With Andy Slavitt.”
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, “IN THE BUBBLE WITH ANDY SLAVITT”)
MANDY COHEN: They’re nonetheless inclined to our vaccines. They’re nonetheless inclined to our medicines. They’re nonetheless picked up by the assessments. So all of our instruments nonetheless work because the virus modifications. However we will need to preserve watching it.
KELLY: Pien, talking of the vaccine, ought to all of us go get a shot now to shore up safety?
HUANG: Properly, the overall recommendation from consultants proper now could be that in the event you can, it will make sense to carry off for one more month or two. In order that’s as a result of the booster that is out there at present is definitely an outdated formulation from final 12 months. There is a new model of the COVID vaccine coming this fall in late September, early October, and that is the one which targets newer variants.
KELLY: So simply briefly, it appears like we could need to maintain off.
HUANG: Yeah, precisely. I imply, we count on that there is going to be an precise surge within the colder months. So in the event you wait to get the up to date booster this fall, you are going to be higher protected heading into the vacation season.
KELLY: NPR’s Pien Huang. Thanks.
HUANG: You are welcome.
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