It’s hard to believe it has been more than three years since the COVID public health emergency began. And while the landscape looks a bit different now, we cannot forget the magnitude of this pandemic, and the risks and challenges it continues to pose.
As of November 11, 2023, there have been 6,484,329 hospitalizations and 1,151,435 deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States alone, according to the CDC. And, as we saw only a few months ago, we still face spikes in infection.
Here is an overview of the current state of COVID-19 in the US.
What are the dominant strains of COVID?
Most COVID variants and subvariants are less severe than the strains we first saw–some, however, are more transmissible. The Omicron variant and its subvariants remain the dominant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) in the United States. For many months, the Omicron subvariant XXB.1.5, also known as the “Kraken,” was the most dominant in the nation. However, as of November 11, the CDC has found that additional subvariant strains of Omicron, including EG.5 and HV.1, are now gaining prominence.
And, while previous strains were marked by distinct symptoms, like a loss of taste and smell, the strains currently circulating commonly bring fever, chills, and sore throat.
What treatments are available?
The FDA has authorized or approved several antiviral medications to treat and stop the progression of, mild to moderate COVID-19, including Paxlovid, Veklury, and Lagevrio. There are also additional therapies in development.
Have any new vaccines been approved?
This fall, the FDA approved and authorized the latest COVID vaccines that more closely target currently circulating variants and provide better protection against severe COVID. This year’s shots are from ModernaTx Inc, Pfizer, and Novavax.
What do we know about long COVID?
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that we know about long COVID, also called Post-COVID Conditions (PCC), but it is top of mind for many entities. For example, the federal government has launched the NIH RECOVER Initiative and the Office Of Long COVID Research and Practice to better understand, treat, prevent, and coordinate response to this condition.
Also, according to a recent study, one in seven Americans have developed long COVID, all but ensuring it will remain a major topic–and challenge–in healthcare in the coming years.
As we head into 2024, we’re optimistic about the research and advancements being done around COVID-19, and we will continue to work with our partners to provide the best possible resources and care for their members.
This blog was written by David Baker, Director, Clinical Sales at Abarca.