The autumn COVID wave begins in Europe, and the US picture is already rough!
COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing in various European countries when people move indoors during the cool season. Although the situation in the United States is currently quiet, the trends in the country are similar to those in Europe.
So far, the increase in instances has been driven by a well-known foe: the omicron subvariant BA.5, which has reigned as the internationally dominant variant for a reasonably long time.
However, a thick soup of omicron sub-varieties simmers on low heat, packed with sub-lines convergent on an ominous series of mutations, particularly from BA.2. and BA.5. Some sublines, such as BQ.1.1, which is an offshoot of BA.5, and XBB, which is developed from BA.2 strains, are the most immunological evasive subvariants discovered to date.
For the time being, the sublines account for only a portion of the overall number of cases known to us, with BA.5 continuing to dominate. Our ability to detect and monitor new subvariants, on the other hand, is only a fraction of what it formerly was.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Maria Van Kerkhove, head of COVID-19 technical for the World Health Organization, stated that “surveillance has altered considerably in recent months.” Since the start of the year, fewer than 90% fewer sequences have been evaluated by the global community and our expert networks. This makes it harder for us to follow each of these closely.
But even what we can gather from that scant inspection is concerning. More than 300 sublines are followed by experts, and several of them are very concerning, according to Van Kerkhove. With all these sub-variants we’re tracking, it sort of sounds like an alphabet soup, she added. “But the fact is that this virus is still evolving. It is currently spreading over the planet at an exceedingly fast rate. … Waves of infection will keep coming. This is undeniable.
The best defence against a spike in hospitalizations and deaths is to give people a boost, according to many specialists who anticipate the next wave to arrive in the upcoming weeks. However, the abysmal booster uptake in the US was and continues to be a worrying reality.
Less than half of Americans have had a single booster vaccination, despite 68 per cent of the population having received the entire primary set of COVID-19 vaccinations. Only 37% of people over 50 got a second booster. And just 7.6 million people in the United States have now received their fall booster, a dosage of the brand-new, bivalent booster that also targets BA.5.
A pilot study conducted by Yale University and Commonwealth Fund researchers demonstrates how alarmingly low the booster rate is. In the event that a new subvariant, such as XBB, does not consume the world like omicron did last winter, the researchers have modelled a winter wave.
They contrasted the forecast with present vaccination and booster rates to what could be avoided if those rates reflected flu vaccine coverage in the 2020–2021 flu season, which was a modest but reliable 59 percent for those ages 6 months to 17 years, and 50% among adults.
According to a conservative estimate, “a hypothetical winter wave of COVID-19 infections might peak at roughly 16,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths per day by March 2023, if immunisation continues at its current pace through the end of March 2023,” the statement added.
research revealed. The fall COVID-10 booster campaign, however, might avert more than 75,000 fatalities and more than 745,000 hospitalizations by March 2023 if immunisation rates were comparable to those of the moderate 2020–2021 flu season.
These are cautious projections, based on the supposition that the new boosters are no better than the older ones, that there won’t be a wave of problems due to the holidays, and that lenient quarantine and isolation rules won’t be accelerating the spread. The wave that was modelled therefore likely underestimates what might occur.