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New Variant Here, New Vaccine Coming

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
New Variant Here, New Vaccine Coming

It’s been a while, but there’s a new COVID variant in town named Eris. A subvariant of Omicron, it’s spreading quickly in the U.S. but so far is no more severe than previous variants and doesn’t seem to have new or different symptoms. With summer travel and back-to-school time, you’ve probably heard people in your circle with COVID again. This is in line with higher percent positive rates reported by Louisiana Department of Health. Through the first week of August, rates were over 21%, up from 12% at the beginning of July.

Nationwide, more of these COVID cases are turning into hospitalizations -- up more than 40% from lows hit in June – but numbers are still more than 90% below peak levels hit during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022. And statewide, hospitalizations have steadily increased from a low of 59 on June 22, hitting over the 200 mark.

At Baton Rouge General, the past few months have seen an average of 3-4 COVID patients in the hospital at any given time. While those numbers have recently trended up into the teens, they are not anything close to prior surges. It’s also important to note that often patients are admitted to the hospital for another issue, like a surgery or injury, and then end up testing positive.

At the same time a new variant is emerging, a new COVID vaccine will be available starting this fall, likely in late September or early October. The new version has been updated to better target the Omicron variant. The timing of its rollout aligns with the time many people get their flu shots, so getting both around the time is a good plan, especially for older people and others at higher risk.

Though cases may fluctuate, COVID will continue to be part of the healthcare landscape much like the flu. The good news is that we have learned a lot about how to manage it along the way, which will hopefully continue to keep severe illness and hospitalizations to a minimum.