The Latest on Covid-19 Pandemic in the US as of July 1, 2022

July 19, 2022

2022 has been a significant year for Covid illness thus far.  2021 proved deadly with spread of the delta variant of Covid.  At the start of last winter, new mutations of the virus became more prevalent and were given the name Omicron.  December 2021 and January 2022 had high numbers of cases.  Fortunately, severity of illness was not quite as bad, and hospitalization rates were lower.  We went through somewhat of a lull in April and May of 2022 only to see the number of Covid cases skyrocketing again in June and so far in July.  The predominant strains in the population are Omicron B.4. and B.5.  These strains of Omicron, while no more severe, are very contagious.  Unfortunately, even mild symptomatic cases of Covid can lead to long term symptoms which we call long Covid.  Common long Covid symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath and “brain fog” or subjective impairment of cognitive function.

Of course, the best way to prevent long Covid is to reduce the chance of getting Covid in the first place by being vaccinated.  (Vaccination will not completely protect you from getting Covid, but it will definitely decrease the risk of severe disease and death).  A recent study of 28,000 people published in the British medical journal showed that vaccination after a case of Covid also helped decrease the symptoms of long Covid.

If you come down with Covid, you can shorten its duration and decrease your risk of hospitalization by taking oral antiviral medication or in some cases, injectable monoclonal antibodies or antiviral drugs within 5 days of symptom onset.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is not over, even though we want it to be.  New mutations of the virus continue to emerge. We can  hope that they will not become more severe forms.  New vaccines which are more effective against Omicron appear to be in the pipeline for later this year.  Hopefully at some point this virus will burn out, but that remains to be seen.  Until then, your best defense is vaccination and avoiding compromising high risk behavior.