New COVID-19 Variant Eris Spreading, but Experts Remain Cautiously Optimistic
The new COVID-19 variant, known as Eris, is reportedly becoming more prevalent, causing concern among experts. However, positivity rates and hospitalizations are expected to remain manageable, according to health officials.
Dr. Robert Wilson of Covenant Health shared his observations, stating that he has seen an increase in COVID cases in his practice as people return from travel and schools reopen. This aligns with the recent reports from the Knox County Health Department, which has recorded a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the past few weeks.
National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further supports these findings, showcasing an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths. However, experts are cautioning that the current COVID data may not provide a clear picture of infection rates due to a lack of surveillance systems and underreporting.
In light of these developments, Dr. Wilson advises individuals to continue taking precautions to protect themselves and others. These precautions include getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene, and getting tested early if experiencing symptoms or exposure.
Fortunately, at-home antigen tests have been found to be accurate and reliable, according to the CDC. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends two consecutive negative antigen tests for symptomatic individuals and three consecutive negative tests for those without symptoms.
Dr. Wilson emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated as the best defense against COVID-19. An updated vaccine targeting the Omicron variant is expected to be available in the fall, offering additional protection. The CDC recommends individuals aged 6 and older to stay up to date with their COVID vaccinations, including an updated Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Furthermore, specific groups, such as the elderly and immunocompromised individuals, may be recommended additional doses of the vaccine. While the vaccines continue to be effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, their effectiveness against mild and moderate cases may decrease over time.
Although the news of the spread of the Eris variant is concerning, experts remain cautiously optimistic about the ability to manage the situation. Adhering to preventive measures, such as getting vaccinated and practicing good hygiene, can help mitigate the impact of the variant and protect individuals and communities from COVID-19.
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