THE HONEYMOON IS OVER AND THE COUNTS ARE SIGNIFICANTLY ELEVATED IN TEXAS, ESPECIALLY EAST TEXAS:
FROM DR. KATLINE JETELINA, YOUR LOCAL EPIDEMIOLOGIST:
”…The newest Omicron variant, BA.4/5, is gaining traction, causing case, hospitalization, and death curves to trend upwards in many countries. This variant was first detected in South Africa in early 2022 and caught our attention because it had several mutations on the spike protein…..In the lab, we see that Omicron is getting better at escaping our first line of defense—neutralizing antibodies. ..BA.4/5 does not fully escape immunity. This means, in the short-term, boosters help prevent infection and thus transmission…. BA.4/5 drove a substantial case wave in South Africa regardless of their high level of immunity. Case waves across Europe are now well on their way, too. In the U.K., reinfections are on the rise, even among 60+ year olds.
..We don’t have epidemiological data on duration of booster effectiveness against BA.4/5. Data from the U.K. showed that boosters provided strong initial protection against BA.1 or BA.2 infection but quickly diminished to 0% five months later. We expect BA.4/5 to shorten this timeline even more…..
In Europe, Portugal is the BA.4/5 leader, with 70% of COVID-19 cases accounting for this new variant. With one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, they largely escaped death from Delta. However, now, after recently reaching their BA.4/5 case peak, excess mortality hit the highest level since their vaccination campaign began…In Portugal, increase in hospitalizations is occurring mainly in people over 60 years old. In fact, in a recent analysis, unvaccinated people over 80 had a case fatality rate (CFR) of 9.5% … Among those with only the primary vaccine series, CFR [CASE FATALITY RATE] is 5%; among those with a booster, it is 1.7%….. While Portugal does have a higher booster rate than the U.S., it isn’t perfect. …. Vaccines are not perfect, and if we have a virus burning through a population, it can still cause high levels of death among vulnerable pockets, like the elderly….BA.4/5 hospitalizations are now making headway in other European countries…[WITH] the global upswing in hospitalizations as BA.4/5 entered the scene. But, so far, remains much lower than previous peaks….Bottom line:This virus continues to mutate to escape our first line of defense causing (re)infections. If you don’t want to get sick, it’s time to leverage other layers of protection, like masking. Thankfully, other immune system mechanisms continue to work to reduce severe disease. The transmissibility of the virus is causing upswings of hospitalizations and deaths among the most vulnerable of our populations. We aren’t out of the woods yet but we are inching closer and closer to a manageable virus…”
(J. Harris: Dr. Jetelina is a PhD epidemiologist who has a day job and writes this blog at night. She has small children and accepts contributions. I have found her to be well-informed and to have the ability to explain pertinent basic and new information to laymen and old Internists. The above article is worth reading in its entirety. I subscribed to her efforts.)
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