Louisiana health officials: New COVID-19 sub-variant will likely cause more reinfections
The new COVID-19 sub-variant, EG.5, will become the dominant variant, and can possibly evade antibodies created by the vaccine.
A new sub-variant of the COVID-19 virus is quickly becoming the dominant strain in the United States. This subvariant, EG.5, is a derivative of the Omicron variant. While the new strain is not an immediate public health risk, it does have the ability to evade antibodies created by the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Joseph Kanter, with the Louisiana Department of Health, tells Louisiana Public Broadcasting that we know that COVID-19 mutates fairly quickly into new variants. And that’s something they have been dealing with since the pandemic began. So Kanter says the fact that we have a new variant on the horizon now is not a surprise.
EG.5 has been growing for the past few weeks. It's about 20 percent and growing of all the new cases out there right now, both nationally and in Louisiana. But even though it's growing and will likely grow further, and eventually become the dominant variant, Kanter says we've been down this road many times before. In fact, Kanter reassures the public that we are in a much different place than we were in the early days of this outbreak. And he does not think this is cause for “over alarm.” Kanter explains we've been dealing with Omicron-type variants over the past 6 to 12 months or so, with similar symptoms, including the same cough and fatigue.
Dr. Kanter says COVID is a strange virus and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including the loss of taste and smell. This variant can possibly evade antibodies created by a covid-19 vaccine. This is not a new virus anymore and we have so many more protections than we had back then. About 95 percent of this state has either had COVID in the past, been vaccinated, or both. And while that's not 100-percent protective, it is significant.
So, Kanter expects that the clinical outcomes, on average, are going to be much less severe than they were at earlier points of this pandemic. “Now, I say on average because people who are extremely vulnerable are still vulnerable. I'm talking about people who were older in age, people who have met serious medical conditions, particularly immunosuppression. Those people do need to be thinking about what extra precautions might be right for them.” That said, Dr. Kanter says he does not see the need for the general public to be worried about having to ‘mask up’ yet again.
Dr. Kanter says in the next month or two a new updated booster will be available and that’s expected to be a good match for this variant. So, he encourages everyone to talk with their trusted healthcare provider now and get a good game plan, not just for that booster, but also for the flu vaccine that will be available soon, as well.