Two-Minute Tuesday – Respiratory diseases surge in the US: New Covid variants + RSV

There is no doubt that 2020 and 2021 were the toughest years of the pandemic. So far, 2022 has taught us more about COVID’s mutations. Learning how to safely gather has become a top priority since then. Although we are in a better position today than we were before, the pandemic continues.

If you’re in the United States, you should know that there’s a surge in respiratory diseases across the country, including new Covid variants, and RSV.

In today’s blog post, we’ll share:

  • An overview of the new Covid variants: BQ.1 and BQ.1.1
  • The impact of the RSV outbreak, especially on the elderly

New Covid variants: BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are now “dominant” in the US

Two fast-spreading new Covid variants are now the dominant strains circulating in the US: BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.

According to the CDC, BQ.1 caused more than 25% of all Covid infections in the past week. Just a month ago, this strain caused 7% of infections. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that this variant’s infections increased from 13% to 16% last week worldwide.

Meanwhile, BQ.1.1 falls closely behind those numbers. During the same period, BQ1.1 was responsible for 24% of Covid cases. This is up from 5% of infections compared to a month ago.

Nevertheless, although highly contagious, the new Covid variants don’t seem to be more dangerous than previous strains.

Moreover, the previous dominant strain, BA.5, has declined from 65% of cases a month ago to just 24% of new infections.

It’s fair to remember that Covid cases tend to increase during fall and winter, when surges are typical and expected. Hence, the government is encouraging citizens to catch up on COVID-19 booster vaccines to mitigate it. However, the uptake of booster vaccines has been slow so far. Only 11% of the eligible population has been booster vaccinated, since becoming available in September 2022.

RSV surging in geriatric patients, an unusual risk group  

RSV is usually a pediatric disease, which affects children between the ages of two and three. But, like many other things, “the usual” has been altered by the pandemic.

Last week, according to the CDC, individuals aged 65 and over were hospitalized with RSV in higher numbers than its typical pediatric patients. This shift in frequent risk groups is drawing attention in the US, and it is important to be aware of it.

Hospitalization rates for adults 65 and older increased nearly two times by November 25th, compared to the same period of 2021.

RSV surge causes

So, if RSV is a children’s disease, why are older adults getting infected and even hospitalized?

There are two main causes:

  • Low influenza and RSV activity for more than two years, as many children have never been exposed to the disease, making herd immunity a challenge.
  • The discontinuation of Americans taking Covid prevention measures, which, on a large scale, served to prevent other diseases as well.

According to the experts, the spread of RSV among children has influenced the extraordinary number of cases in people over the age of 65.

Prevention is the key

There are currently no vaccines for RSV prevention. Thus, in view of the high number of cases, it’s once again essential to wear masks in public spaces, and to stay away from sick people in order to prevent it.

We’re not going back to restrictive measures like we saw in recent years, but experts recommend taking mindful measures, based on the risk each person faces.

The following conditions may increase your risk of infection:

  • Chronic medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.
  • Weakened immune system.

Get tested and minimize the impact of infection

Recent US increases in respiratory infections suggests that Covid is not the only thing you should be cautious about this season. Covid surges and antibiotic-resistant superbug infections are expected to continue developing rapidly across the United States over the coming months.

Did you know that Covid Clinic offers combination testing? That’s right– we offer testing for COVID-19, RSV, and the Flu. Testing is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Get Tested! Let’s help minimize the impact and spread. 

Tested positive for COVID-19? We’re here to help you get the Covid treatment that is right for you.

Still have questions?

Gone are the days of crowded waiting rooms, daunting hospitals, and cold exam tables. At Rume, we offer care on your terms, where and when you need it, including telemedicine, drive thrus, and popups. You’ll get quick results and trusted insights.