The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has turned to examining hospitalization records, deaths, and wastewater data to track COVID-19 trends across the country as state-level reporting becomes scarcer. For at least five weeks, a trend has become clear: COVID cases are on the rise at the start of fall 2023.
In the week ending August 26, 2023, the CDC tracked a 16% increase in COVID hospitalizations nationwide. Emergency room visits increased about 2% in that same period. Furthermore, COVID-related deaths have increased slightly to more than 630 fatalities per week, up from 500 in June.
Research shows that the omicron variant is still the most dominant COVID strain in the U.S. However, part of the rise could be caused by the newly mutated “Pirola” variant (BA.2.86), which has significant mutated differences compared to original omicron strains. With its many differences, it was not clear at first if prior vaccination and contraction would create an appreciable defense against Pirola.
Moderna Vaccine Boosters Versus Pirola
A bit of good news hit headlines recently when Moderna released data showing its latest booster’s effectiveness against the Pirola strain. The information, which relied on blood samples to measure antibody responses, revealed that the Moderna booster appears to remain highly effective at limiting the harm of a viral COVID infection, which is to say that it might not grant immunity from contraction, but it helps keep prevent serious cases that require medical attention.
With the data from Moderna being passed around for peer review, virologists are hopeful that other vaccine manufacturers will be able to create boosters that are just as effective. Furthermore, the data could indicate that prior vaccination against the coronavirus, namely the omicron strain, could provide moderate protection against severe Pirola COVID infections. It remains unclear but unlikely that contracting the virus without vaccination can help prevent future infections due to a weak antibody response. In other words, vaccination remains the most effective method of prevention and protection against all strains of COVID, including Pirola.
Emergency Medical Care for COVID Infections
Are you showing signs of COVID-19 symptoms? Even if the symptoms are minor, you should be tested as soon as possible to confirm if you have contracted any of the coronavirus strains, especially if you know that you were recently in a public space or near someone who was also showing symptoms. The sooner that you can test, the sooner you can get treatments. In fact, some of the most effective antiviral treatments for COVID are only effective within a few days of contracting the virus, so you should seek medical attention now.
If you live in the greater Dallas metropolitan area, choose Advance ER for all your COVID testing and treatment needs. We have two 24/7 emergency care centers that offer no wait times. We can use rapid testing to determine if you have COVID, and if you do, we can discuss treatment options, including monoclonal antiviral therapy. This specialized treatment can drastically reduce the severity of COVID if taken soon after contracting the virus. Again, this is why it is so important to get tested and get medical help at the first signs of a COVID infection.
Reminder: If you are showing COVID symptoms or think you were exposed to COVID, please wear a medical face mask while in one of our two Dallas emergency COVID care centers. Please call ahead if you do not have a mask so we can ensure that you are provided with one upon arrival. Also, flu season is just around the corner. A co-occurring flu and COVID diagnosis can be dangerous. Ask us about flu vaccinations, too.
Need more information about COVID treatments at Advance ER? Call (214) 494-8222 now.