Medical professionals are predicting a return of COVID-19 in the U.S.
According to federal data, a new variant of COVID-19 is now present in more cases across the country.
The XBB strain, which is an offshoot of the omicron variant, has been in circulation in the country since April. However, as of Aug. 5, it accounts for 17.3% of COVID infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC data indicates that there has been an increase in the number of cases, from 1.1% at the end of May.
COVID hospitalizations have been increasing at an alarming rate of 12.5% in the last week, with a total of 9,056 hospitalized, as reported by the federal health agency.
The UK Health Security Agency has estimated that EG.5.1, which is part of the broader GEOGRA group, accounts for an estimated 14.55% of cases in the United Kingdom, making it the second most prevalent strain.
Public health experts have stated that there is no evidence to suggest that EG.5 leads to more severe illness, and it is typical for the virus to mutate and develop new types.
“Omicron is present, but with slight variations. Those children and offspring are all closely linked to omicronism, according to Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “They’re good because they can be spread, although there’s no indication of their severity,” she stated.
The surge in hospitalizations may be caused by a combination of factors, including weakened immunity and indoor gatherings, but the actual figures are still among the lowest recorded since the pandemic began.
“A percent increase in a low number of COVID cases can make them seem more intimidating than it actually is, as stated by Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for Tufts Medicine, to ABC News.”
“Although the new variant replaces the old one, we’re still at our lowest points and will see some upswing in cases,” she stated.
The World Health Organization has identified EG.5 as a type currently being monitored on July 19, but experts have stated that it should not be considered worrying and instead serves as an indicator of effective monitoring.
If a new type of COVID mutation were to appear and spread rapidly in any country, Schaffner suggested that the surveillance system would alert the organization and help them prepare for it.
Experts have stated that the guidance previously recommended by public health officials is still the same, except for evidence that EG.5 or its sublineages are causing more severe disease. This includes assessing risk tolerance, staying vigilant, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.
The CDC is set to provide recommendations for a new COVID booster shortly before the fall season, when both numbers are expected to increase.
The XBB monovalent booster for the fall is a risky decision because the selected strain cannot be determined with certainty in June, according to Doron.