This is a case update. I’ll also give an update on new Omicron variants and briefly discuss a new anti-Coronavirus drug, Paxlovid.
In the US, cases continue to increase modestly, and may have peaked. This increase in cases are likely due to Omicron sub-variants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 (more on these later). However, new deaths are still decreasing. I will caution that a rise in new deaths often trails new cases by 2-5 weeks. For the first Omicron wave, deaths followed cases by 2 weeks, and we are currently 4 weeks in to the BA.2 wave.
In California and San Diego County, cases are up modestly. Again, new deaths have not yet begun to rise.
New Omicron sub-variants, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1: BA.2 has been well known for a few weeks. I’ve stated before that BA.2 is very similar to the first Omicron variants, and predicted that it will not have a large impact. A new variant BA.2.12.1 likely falls into the same category. These variants now dominate the current cases with 98% of new cases being due to one of these variants.
These variants are more infectious than the first Omicron sub-variants, but it is still unknown if they are more or less pathogenic. Viruses tend to become more infectious and less pathogenic over time.
Some Eastern states like New York were the first to see modest new waves due to BA.2. New York has yet to see a significant increase in deaths.
All this to say, for now, the BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 wave still appears to be somewhat insignificant.
If you had COVID from mid-December to now, you probably had Omicron. Because BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 are very similar to Omicron, you should not be concerned about reinfection until a significantly new variant arises. Some people who had Delta have also been infected with Omicron.
Omicron sub-variants get a lot of press, much more than previous sub-variants. I’ll let you guess why that is. For now, don’t be alarmed about a new Omicron sub-variant. They will probably all fall into the “don’t stress about it” category.
The pandemic isn’t quite over. If you don’t have immunity, you may want to continue to take precautions by wearing an N95, KN95, or KF94 when indoors in public. Cloth masks or blue surgical masks will not protect you from Omicron variant SARS-2 viruses.
Paxlovid: 2 friends of mine got COVID just this week. They were both prescribed Paxlovid, a new anti-SARS medication. The drug is a protease inhibitor, which prevents viruses from maturing as they are formed inside a human cell. Protease inhibitors do not prevent infection, but they can significantly reduce viral load and improve symptoms. Both of my friends are doing well now, one feeling significantly better within just 24 hours. 2 people is a very small sample size so this should not be taken as an endorsement. I’m just pointing out that there is a new therapeutic available.
I will point out that Paxlovid is a Pfizer product. For some, this will cause concern because Pfizer has lost significant trust due to the vaccine mandates and the attending creepiness.
Don’t fear, but be smart,