With the coronavirus on the rise in the United States, the new vaccine will come sooner than expected

Pfizer, left, and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are ready for use at a clinic, on November 17, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia. On Friday, June 16, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration asked makers of COVID-19 vaccines to update their fall shots to target the newest Omicron strains. (AP Photo/Steve Helper, file)

LOS ANGELES — With coronavirus cases increasing across California and the nation, an updated vaccine for COVID-19 is expected to be released even earlier than expected.

Transmission of the coronavirus is increasing this summer, and hospitalization rates, while still low, have recently begun to rise as well.

Los Angeles County health officials said COVID-19 levels rose for the fifth straight week, with the number of newly reported infections likely to increase due to travel, the back-to-school season and new Omicron variants.

New outbreaks have emerged in nursing homes in Los Angeles County, and a Hollywood studio temporarily imposed a mask mandate after several employees became infected. Nationwide, there were 12,613 weekly hospitalizations for COVID-19 for the week ending Aug. 12 — double the number since the beginning of this summer, but only a third of the level seen this time last year.

The US Food and Drug Administration said this year’s updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be out by the middle of next month, slightly earlier than scheduled. late september The schedule previously announced by the Department of Health and Human Services.

An earlier-than-expected arrival became apparent after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scheduled a September 12 meeting of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, a possible indication that a vaccine will become available soon after.

The latest version of the vaccine is Designed Against the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant, informally known as Kraken. Unlike last year’s formulation, which was a bivalent vaccine designed against both the progenitor coronavirus strain and the BA.5/BA.4 Omicron sub-variants that were in circulation at the time, the next vaccine will be monovalent, specifically designed against XBB.1.5.

Dominant as of this spring, Kraken has seen other upstart sub-variants emerge to compete against it, such as XBB.1.16 (informally referred to as Arctic ichthyosis ) and EG.5 (aka Iris ). The differences between these sub-variants are relatively minor, and the new vaccine is expected to be effective against all three.

But officials are keeping a close eye on another sub-variant that has raised more questions: BA.2.86Nicknamed Pirula after an asteroid.

At the Center for Disease Control risk assessment, The agency said Perola “may be more likely to cause infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines.”

The Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday that the effectiveness of the upcoming vaccine against Pyrola is still being evaluated, but the agency still expects the new version to be effective in reducing serious illness and hospitalization.

The agency added: “At this point, there is no evidence that this variant causes more serious disease. This assessment may change as additional scientific data develops.”

Unlike the recently identified sub-variants, which may have one or two mutations that set them apart from earlier versions, Perula has 36 different mutations than XBB.1.5, “which makes people raise their eyebrows,” said Dr. University of California. San Francisco infectious disease expert.

BA.2.86 is so different that people worry that a vaccine in the fall won’t be quite as appropriate – but, nevertheless, it will still protect people from serious diseases,” he said.

Chen Hong added, “And who knows if he’ll become ruler of the roost? He actually hasn’t taken off yet that we know of.” “But then again, sequencing is always late and not many people are sequencing all over the world anymore.”

Very few cases of Pyrolavirus have been identified in the United States to date, and the sub-variant has yet to be detected in Los Angeles County. But in some parts of Europe, Pyrola now accounts for 1% to 2% of cases, and the fact that it is found on more than one continent indicates its spread, Chen Hong said.

However, Chen Hong said that so far those infected with the Pyrola strain have generally experienced mild symptoms. And based on what is currently known, if Pyrola becomes dominant, “at some point, it could trigger another round of transmission, and it might find people who are ‘viral'” – people who have never been infected – “or people who have never been infected.” They are more likely to get sick,” Qin Hong said.

Chen Hong said that regardless of the new mutations in Perola, the anti-COVID-19 therapeutic drugs baxlovid and remdesivir should remain effective.

Overall, Chen Hong said, many people who contracted the coronavirus this summer did not need to be hospitalized, most likely because they were vaccinated, previously infected, or both. Even hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Chen Hong said, generally require a shorter stay than they did earlier in the epidemic.

However, those who are hospitalized tend to be older and those who have not had a COVID-19 booster in the last year – meaning they are not considered “updated”.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that the areas of the country with particularly notable increases in new weekly hospital admissions for COVID-19 are in the South. In California, there were 1,930 new weekly hospitalizations for COVID-19 during the week ending August 12. This represents an increase of more than 60% from the beginning of the summer, but it is still a relatively low historically.

Positive recoveries for the coronavirus are also increasing in Los Angeles County. In the week ending August 19, there were an average of 422 patients hospitalized each day, up nearly 30% from the previous week.

in blog postRecent trends underscore how “the pandemic is far from over,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Research Institute in San Diego.

Topol described the recent increase in transmission as “wavelets” that can pick up steam but are more likely to be associated with poorer immunity and behavior than the most recent subvariants.

“The fact that the inevitable evolution of the virus continues – to find new hosts and repeat hosts – cannot be ignored,” he wrote.

“For the moment there is no cause for concern…. What we will see in the coming weeks is whether or not the BA.2.86 takes hold. If it does, that will present a new challenge, and make the ‘updated’ booster shots much less useful,” Topol wrote. than was envisioned when XBB.1.5 was chosen as the target.”

Los Angeles County health officials have said that people with COVID-19 should stay home for at least five days after they first develop symptoms or first test positive, whichever comes first.

County health officials urged people at high risk, and those who spend time with them, to take precautions against infection, such as wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces, especially those with poor ventilation, and on public transportation.

It is also important to be tested for infection when symptoms appear or after exposure to someone with COVID-19, to stay home when sick, and to seek anti-COVID-19 medication if infected.

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