Wednesday, July 24, 2024

COVID LB.1 Variant on the Rise as Cases Go Up

Federal data shows that a summer wave of COVID-19 infections is coming earlier than the previous year, with LB.1 being the newest variant that’s gaining dominance.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 infections have not slowed down in any states this past week. In fact, they are going up quickly, especially in the west.

In the western region, high levels of the virus have been detected in wastewater – and that is one of the earliest signs of surging COVID-19 cases. Many nursing homes in the western states have also seen a rise in cases over the past several weeks.

Within HHS Region 9, which encompasses several states from Hawaii to Arizona, more than 1.2 percent of ER visits were from COVID-19 patients. This is the highest average since February of this year.

Last year, the summer surge didn’t arrive until late July, with many heading to the emergency room at the end of August, right as the new vaccine was about to be released.

Ruth Link-Gelles, which heads the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness research program at the CDC, said that while the flu demonstrates similar trends over time, that is not the case at all for COVID-19

The Rise of Two New Variants

The CDC is currently monitoring two new variants: LB.1 and KP.3, both of which are becoming widespread across the U.S.

As of Friday, the KP.3 variant makes up one-third of COVID-19 cases across the country while the LB.1 variant makes up nearly 18 percent of all cases.

wastewater monitoring
The CDC has been tracking the new variants with wastewater monitoring

According to CDC projections, the LB.1 will eventually overtake KP.3 as it is currently growing at a quicker rate in the U.S.

The ”FLiRT’ variant, KP.2, on the other hand, has gone down since last month, when it was the dominant strain nationwide.

All three of these COVID-variants are derived from the JN.1 strain that caused an uptick of cases last winter.

According to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases professor, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, KP.3 also has mutations that make it more transmissible than the previous variants such as JN.1

What Are the New Symptoms?

There’s currently no evidence that KP.3 causes new symptoms that have not been seen with previous strains of the virus.

Symptoms include fever or chills, fatigue, sore throat, cough, headache, runny nose, congestion, muscle aches, and difficulty breathing.

covid vaccine
The FDA plans on releasing a new COVID-19 vaccine for the KP.2 strain this fall

There’s also no reason to believe that the KP.3 variant won’t be detected by COVID-19 rapid tests.

Given the recent uptake in cases, experts recommend testing if you will be coming into contact with those who are immunocompromised, or other high risk individuals. You should also test for COVID-19 if you have been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case, or if you are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Waning immunity and low vaccination rates have also allowed the new variants to take hold within the community. However, only time will tell, according to experts.

 

 

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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