After over three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Americans have returned to their pre-pandemic way of life. However, a new dominant variant and increasing hospitalization rates might allow for a second summer surge. Since April, a new COVID variant has been available. According to recent CDC data, the Omicron family member EG.5 is responsible for 17% of all cases in the US, up from 7.5% during the first week of July.
As per an overview from with the exception of one extra spike mutation, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, EG.5, also referred to as “Eris” by health trackers, is nearly identical to its parent strain, XBB.1.9.2. The news of EG.5’s increasing prevalence has coincided with a 12.5% increase in COVID-related hospitalization rates over the past week, marking the largest increase since December. There is still no proof, though, connecting the novel variation to a rise in hospital admissions.
Concern about situation
Furthermore, there is currently no discernible difference in the severity of illness or symptoms between Eris and the strains that came before it, according to research. Something to be concerned about? According to William Schaffner, MD, an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the COVID virus has a strong propensity to mutate. Thankfully, these mutations are quite small. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is still extremely contagious. “It’s spreading without a doubt, but it’s not getting worse.” Thus Schaffner does not believe that a panic is warranted. In certain cases, he would rather refer to it as a “uptick” rather than a “surge” since the latter “sounds too big.”
Even though the numbers are still lower than during the summer surge of the previous year, experts still advise people to be mindful of changes in the virus. Infectious disease expert Bernard Camins, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, states, “I do not think that there is any cause for alarm.” Therefore, why are there more cases? is summer has seen a rise in COVID cases, most likely associated with travel, socializing, and decreasing mask use,” Stanford University allergy, immunology, and infectious disease specialist Anne Liu, MD, stated. Nevertheless, she stated, “it has been limited and case severity has been lower than in prior surges because of an existing level of immunity from vaccination and prior infections.” What the Official Stats Indicate The COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review is no longer updated by the CDC.
What the Official Numbers Say
When the federal public health emergency ended in May 2023, they came to an end. However, the organization is still keeping track of COVID-19 cases, hospital stays, ER visits, and fatalities in various ways. As of this week, the most important findings are that 9,056 new hospital admissions were recorded for the week ending July 29, 2023. Comparing that to July 30, 2022, when the weekly new hospitalization numbers exceeded 44,000, it is comparatively low. We experienced a summer wave of cases last year, with a peak in mid-July. Thus, our summer wave is arriving a little later than it did last year, according to Pavitra Roychoudhury, PhD, an assistant professor and researcher in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division of the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The height of the peak during this current wave is unknown. Both the number of hospitalizations and the SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater are currently lower than they were at this time last year. During a portion of the pandemic, the CDC advised individuals to keep an eye on COVID counts in their local areas. However, hospital admission rates—which are currently low for over 99% of the nation, even though they are rising—are the basis for the agency’s local COVID guidelines. Therefore, while the decline in hospitalizations is encouraging, it also means that the agency will have less capacity to detect regional SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks or hotspots.
What About New COVID Vaccines?
Not only are hospital admissions rising nationally, but so are ER visits, positive test results, and wastewater levels—all of which are rising in the US as a result of COVID-19. Regarding additional metrics: On June 19, a positive COVID diagnosis was obtained in 0.47% of ER visits. That rate had more than doubled to 1.1% as of August 4. 8.9% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 on July 29 reported having the virus. Since 4.1% of tests returned positive on June 10, the positivity rate has been rising. Only test results submitted to the CDC are included in this figure. Home test results are still mostly unknown.
As of July 29, the weekly percentage of COVID-19-related deaths was 1%. When compared to earlier rates, that is low. For instance, it was 5.8% for the week that ended on July 30, 2022. How Do the Novel COVID Vaccines Work? Experts predict lower hospitalization rates this winter—as long as you continue to make informed decisions and receive the new Omicron vaccine or booster once it becomes available. Professor of medicine at Stanford University in California Dean Winslow, MD, advised that everyone get the Omicron booster as soon as it becomes available.
Proper vaccination can cure
“It is imperative to underscore that COVID-19 will persist for the foreseeable future,” he stated in the interim. Since the symptoms associated with these more recent Omicron subvariants are typically less severe than those associated with earlier variants, “it is a good idea to test yourself for COVID-19 and start treatment early if one is elderly or otherwise at high risk for severe symptoms, even if one has mild cold symptoms.” Schaffner is still upbeat for the time being. “With certainty, the vaccine being developed for this fall, along with the vaccines we currently have available, will continue to prevent severe disease associated with this virus.”
While a precise timeline is hard to predict, Schaffner stated that they might be accessible by the end of September. He states that the basis for his forecasts is the assumption that “we don’t have a new nasty variant that crops up somewhere in the world.” “If things go as they have been going, we anticipate that this vaccine will be very effective in keeping us out of the hospital this winter, when we anticipate another rise in COVID.
” When asked what he thought about vaccination recommendations, Camins was less sure. “It’s too early to tell,” According to him, recommendations regarding COVID vaccinations will be made in light of the findings of continuing research. Nonetheless, it would be wise for everyone to schedule a flu shot for September. Remain Aware and Remain Practical It appears that cautious optimism and a call to stay alert are currently in agreement.
Even though the numbers are still low and the increase in new cases and hospitalizations is minimal in comparison to previous years, Liu stated that “it makes sense to boost our anti-Omicron antibody levels with immunizations before fall and winter.” previous situations.