COVID is "Raising Alarms" Again and Here's How to Stay Safe
COVID may rise this winter, as a new variant heads toward the United States; this despite President Joe Biden declaring the pandemic is "over." So how can you stay safe? And what precautions do you need to take? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the latest in the coronavirus spread, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.—Dr. Michael Blaivas is a Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics.
New Variant Heading Toward the U.S
There is a new COVID-19 strain gaining momentum in the U.S that seems to be raising alarms. The strain, BF.7, is a subvariant of Omicron, and is now the third most prevalent strain in the U.S According to the CDC, BF.7 has accounted for 2.3% of COVID-19 cases in late September. While BA.5 is still the nation's leading dominant strain, the CDC has seen a rise in cases reported as a result of BF.7. Researchers are estimating that the BF.7 variant may be more transmissible than parent strain BA.5. It's currently unknown how severe the strain is and how effective the new Omicron vaccines are at protecting individuals from the new strain. However, research shows that it does have a different spike protein, a feature that allows it to enter cells, that may cause it to behave differently than other current variants. With that being said, there should be no major worry until more data proves the severity of illness. Continue precautions as normal, testing, staying home when sick, wearing masks and keeping up to date with vaccinations.
Biden Declares that the Pandemic Is Over
President Biden recently shared commentary that he believes "the pandemic is over", but many public health officials recognize that the U.S still faces problems with COVID-19. The CDC continues to identify COVID-19 as a pandemic in the U.S. Experts recognize there is no official marker that can make that definite decision; however, experts agree that the pandemic Is under control and in a better state than it was previously. Infection rates are falling, and majority of individuals have gained immunity from exposure and vaccines. Nevertheless, it's important to remember to continue precautions as usual given new strains of COVID-19 continue to emerge (testing, masking up, isolating when ill, etc.).
If You Have Yet to Contract COVID, You May be a Super Dodger
The CDC estimates that nearly 95 million people have contracted COVID-19, but there are a select few who never contracted the virus. Researchers are looking closer at these individuals – declaring them "superdodgers." A team of researchers at the University of California are analyzing why these individuals have sustained immunity for such prolonged periods. Recent developments into this research reveal that there may be genetic mutations that prevent these individuals from developing COVID-19 symptoms. These studies are in their initial stages and could potentially pave the way to develop more effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines in the future.
Determining if Your Sore Throat Is COVID, Allergies or a Cold
If you have a sore throat, it's 80% likely that it's caused by a viral infection, such as influenza or other viruses, many of which are in the large corona family, which makes it hard to distinguish between infections. Early strains of COVID-19have caused more respiratory symptoms, however recent Omicron infections are causing mild symptoms, such as sore throat. While sore throat is increasing as a reported symptom of COVID-19, it can also be the result of bacterial infection in the throat, which would then be classified as Strep throat. As we head into fall, individuals may also experience seasonal allergies that may cause these symptoms. If you're feeling a sore or itchy throat, the best thing to do is to make sure there is no evidence of strep throat, which can be treated with antibiotics, versus other viruses the treatment for which is largely supportive. Covid-19 is another infection to rule out specifically to avoid from spreading it to others. It's important to note that Covid-19 is really the only viral cause of sore throat that most people can get diagnosed easily almost anywhere. Other viruses are often much harder to diagnose and most of us do not have access to such test.
Staying Safe as We Learn to Live with COVID-19
While the CDC continues to adjust and update quarantine, travel and testing guidelines its important to be mindful that we need to keep up to date with vaccine and booster recommendations, at-home testing when necessary and being mindful to isolate when feeling sick. With flu and allergy season ramping up its common for individuals to forget that COVID-19 remains the forefront of rising infections. While we are noticing the pandemic retreat, we need to remain cautious as newer variants have the potential to ramp up infections at any point.