South Africa, the origin country of the Covid Omicron variant, along with its subsequent sub-variants, is in the midst of its 5th wave of Covid-19 infections. Almost 90% of the cases are from the newer BA-4 and 5 Omicron sub-variants. Similar to BA-2, they appear to be causing milder disease than the original strains, but they are also more evasive of immune protection from both previous Covid infection and vaccination. This is quite concerning.
What is unique about the present wave is that the infected patients who are doing the best are those who were previously infected, but also vaccinated. New infections in unvaccinated people do the worst, followed by those who had Covid before since they have some minimal immune protection and an earlier response to the foreign invader. Those who never had Covid before and were vaccinated do better, but fare a little worse than those who had Covid AND were vaccinated.
The bottom line, get vaccinated. It’s only a matter of time before BA-4 and 5 arrive in N. America. Vaccination may not prevent you from getting Covid, but it certainly lessens the amount of suffering you may experience, not to mention reducing the risks of long-covid symptoms.
In addition, don’t assume that the 2 shot regimen, or one with J&J is protective. You MUST get boosted. Rates of boosting continue to hover below 30%, surprising to me since I was reporting less than 30% boosting rate 2 months ago!.
Paxlovid rebound/failure. There have been many reported cases of Covid patients treated with the antiviral Paxlovid, developing rebound Covid symptoms after the end of their course of treatment. The exact cause is not known but is concerning. The 3 most common theories are:
- Overlooked drug interactions causing lesser efficacy of Paxlovid.
- Resistance of the newer strains to this drug. Most of the other antivirals are not as effective as Paxlovid.
- Not a high enough dose and/or not for long enough. Although unlike with antibiotics where suboptimal treatment can lead to bacterial resistance, the same does not appear to be happening with Covid. It’s just that the treatment duration is just too short and not enough of the virus is killed off.
We seem to have become comfortable with this virus being in our midst. Hearing of someone who gets Covid is no longer a concern, just an inevitability. It’s a dangerous attitude. Just like delaying the Shingles vaccine just long enough to get shingles, not getting vaccinated and hoping you don’t get sick, or worse, assuming you’ll do fine if you get it because your friend did, can lead to unnecessary suffering and possibly tragic results. People are still getting really sick and some are still dying. And Lord help us if a more aggressive variant is allowed to develop.
Please continue to be careful and please get vaccinated and/or boosted.
Stay safe and be well.