Omicron subvariants most dominant strain of covid | News … – Ocean City Today

As the third anniversary of the declaration of the covid pandemic approaches, people are still testing positive and spreading mutated forms of the virus as they try to keep up with the latest vaccines and boosters.
Heather Snyder, the director of quality and infection prevention at Atlantic General Hospital, said in an email last week that the most dominant strains of covid right now are subvariants of the omicron variant that reared its ugly head last year.
“The most recent to pop up is XBB 1.5. This ‘mosaic’ subvariant is a sub-lineage of two previously circulating variants (XBB and BQ.1),” Snyder explained. “According to one branch of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], this latest strain of Omicron is currently spreading 12.5 percent faster than previous variants. In the U.S., XBB 1.5 currently accounts for approximately 43 percent of total US COVID cases, with BA.5 and BQ.1 comprising the remainder.”
All three of the variants have similar symptoms, Snyder continued, including sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache and fatigue. And as with previous strains, those most at risk are individuals with comorbidities, such as heart disease and asthma; the very old and very young; and those with weakened immune systems.
Data shows that health officials have not been able to determine individually which covid variant is responsible for each infection, however population trends have been reported.
“Currently, for, example, XBB 1.5 comprises only 7 percent of the cases in the Midwest, while it encompasses 70 percent of the incidence in New England,” Snyder said.
As for protection, the best defense against covid is still vaccination.
“The bivalent boosters, introduced in the fall of 2022, are still thought to be the best way to avoid serious illness, hospitalization and long term complications associated with COVID,” Snyder said.
Today, all individuals six months and older are eligible for bivalent boosters if it’s been at least two months since completion of a primary series or latest monovalent booster dose.
Snyder said the current vaccine tracking rates are still reflective of primary dosing, and show that an estimated 44.5 percent of the state residents who are fully vaccinated have received recommended boosters.
Locally, Atlantic General has administered more than 53,000 covid vaccines, which includes first, second and booster doses across all age groups.
And while some adverse reactions to vaccines and boosters have been reported in some instances, AGH has not not seen it.
“Currently, no vaccine reactions have been reported through Atlantic General in relation to the COVID bivalent booster,” Snyder said. “The side effects experienced with the primary series and monovalent booster continue with this latest formulation. These include soreness at the injection site, fatigue and headache.”
Along with covid, the flu is also still going around.
Snyder said an increased volume of hospitalizations have been reported locally since the start of the new year, with moderate numbers statewide. She said Maryland overall has reported 134 flu positive hospitalized patients and 43 adult deaths.
Snyder said the types of flu are A and B and that vaccination is the best defense against both.
“While these viruses change yearly, classification does not. Through such basic strain distinction, science is able to keep up with prevention needs,” Snyder explained. “Annually, circulating strains of the flu are isolated and studied to help determine annual flu vaccine components. This approach allows for employment of a predictive model aimed at providing immunizations that result in the best coverage and protection within each annual flu season. This variability in infection composition, combined with waning immunity, is why yearly flu vaccines are so important.”

An unprecedented “tri-demic” — mixture of covid, fu and RSV — is prominent this holiday season, and local health officials are urging people to stay vigilant.
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Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 32F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 32F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 46F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
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