As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, scientists are increasingly concerned about the emergence of more aggressive and evasive strains of the virus. These strains have the potential to be much more challenging to treat and could lead to more serious health complications if left untreated. Emerging COVID subvariants have hit on a combination of mutations that makes them more immune and evasive than ever.
With approaching holiday gatherings and increased seasonal indoor activities, we must once again address ways to contain the virus and prevent the spread. The same precautions of handwashing, social distancing and masking up are still the best way to stay healthy. Vaccines and boosters are available to anyone aged 6 mos. and above. (CDC, 2022)
Up to Date COVID Vaccine Recommendations
Getting vaccinated and boosted is a personal decision, made in accordance with your doctor’s advisement, taking into consideration your individual health concerns. There feels like a lot of mixed messaging out in the public space when it comes to vaccines and boosters. The CDC is the best place to find the most recent data around vaccines. This website page on CDC recommendations is updated regularly and gives the most recent information on vaccines.
COVID Virus Mutations
Despite their different origins, several of the new virus strains have chanced upon a similar combination of mutations to help scale the wall of immunity—a striking example of convergent evolution. “They all have changes at half a dozen key points in the viral genome (DNA) that influence how well neutralizing antibodies from vaccination or previous infection bind to the virus”, says evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA. (Vogel, 2022) Interpreting the variants is as difficult for scientists as it is for all of us following the progress of the virus over the last three years.
The consensus of late in the scientific world is to stop chasing mutations with boosters, which is unsustainable, and create a vaccine to stop the virus.
Omicron has gathered such a high number of mutations within less time. Omicron has a higher mutation rate within a population and then gets reintroduced to a larger population. Long-term persistence and evolution of the virus in immune-compromised patients demonstrates we are still in a learning curve. There is consensus with the scientific community that getting vaccinated and boosted have positive consequences on public health. (Mandavilli, 2022)
Continued COVID Management
Scientists have created multifaceted approaches to the containment of the virus, including rapid diagnosis, genome analysis of emerging variants, ramping up of vaccination drives and receiving booster doses, efficacy testing of vaccines and immunotherapies against newly emerged variants, updating the available vaccines, designing of multivalent vaccines able to generate hybrid immunity, up-gradation of medical facilities and strict implementation of adequate prevention and control measures need to be given high priority to handle the on-going SARS-CoV-2 pandemic successfully. (NIH, 2022)
Avoiding Another Wave – Are Boosters the Answer?
Older Americans and those medically vulnerable should get boosted to prevent severe disease and death. But the picture is less clear for healthy Americans who are middle-aged and younger. They are rarely at risk of severe illness or death from COVID, and at this point most have built immunity through multiple vaccine doses, infections, or both. (Mandavilli, 2022)
Experts are cautionary. While not as deadly, Omicron still developed severe disease sending many to the hospital, and some died. For that reason, experts continued to express concerns that a large volume of cases in a particular area could overwhelm medical centers, making it difficult to treat severe cases.
Testing for Active Virus
Preventing the spread of active virus to vulnerable family and friends is also dependent on knowing when you are infected with COVID-19. Our facility has been with our local communities during the pandemic, providing fast testing services. It’s easy to make an appointment online and come in at a designated time, convenient for you 24/7. Our PCR rapid COVID testing and on-site lab facilities mean you have fast answers to whether you are sick and contagious. Know your status before traveling, for school, and any time a negative test is required for admission to an event, venue, or more.
Note: Information in this article was accurate at the time of original publication. Because information about COVID-19 changes rapidly, we encourage you to visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and your state and local government for the latest information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, November 1). Stay up to date with covid-19 vaccines including boosters. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html
Khandia, R., Singhal, S., Alqahtani, T., Kamal, M. A., El-Shall, N. A., Nainu, F., Desingu, P. A., & Dhama, K. (2022, June). Emergence of SARS-COV-2 omicron (b.1.1.529) variant, salient features, high global health concerns and strategies to counter it amid ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Environmental research. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8798788/
Vogel, G. (2022, September 27). Big covid-19 waves may be coming, New Omicron strains suggest. Science.org. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://www.science.org/content/article/big-covid-19-waves-may-be-coming-new-omicron-strains-suggest
Mandavilli, A. (2022, November 18). Will covid boosters prevent another wave? scientists aren’t so sure. The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/18/health/covid-boosters-surge.html