BISBEE — While the omicron variant is still surging nationwide and causing backups at hospitals in Cochise County, there was some good news reported by Dr. Edward Miller, Copper Queen Community Hospital chief medical officer, on Monday.
This variant is more infectious, but does not seem to carry the respiratory health risks associated with the former variants of COVID–19, said Miller in an email to the Herald/Review.
He stated, “The evidence coming from omicron has led many scientific leaders to suggest a name change from COVID–19 to COVID–21, with the clear difference between the disease and mortality associated with omicron and its predecessors.
“Regardless, we still need to be ‘in the now,’ and today’s ‘now’ is still overwhelming and hospital beds are in very short supply. Please hang in there and protect yourselves.”
He noted the omicron variant is responsible for 87% to 95% of all cases in Arizona.
“It is definitely time to refocus on masking and hand sanitizing,” he continued. “The single best medical measure you can take is getting your vaccinations and the booster shot of either Pfizer or Moderna.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommends the Janssen vaccine because of blood clot issues, he reported.
Omicron is increasingly resistant to monoclonal antibodies with only one of the three, Sotrovimab, showing some activity against omicron.
Sotrovimab, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and VIR BioTech Inc., is authorized for use under a U.S. Department of Agriculture Emergency Use Authorization. It is used for the treatment of mild–to–moderate COVID–19 in adults and pediatric patients who are 12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 pounds who test positive and are at high risk for progression to severe COVID–19, including hospitalization or death, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine must be given intravenously and administered in settings in which health care providers have immediate access to medications to treat a severe infusion reaction.
It cannot be used for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID–19, who require oxygen therapy or who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID–19.
Miller said, “Fortunately, there is some good news. The burst of omicron initially reported in South Africa is already slowing down. Also, COVID–19 deaths in the U.S. and elsewhere are not increasing proportionally to the new cases.
“However, the burden on hospitals, emergency departments and clinics remain high because of the sheer numbers of infected people. Cochise County is currently experiencing over 125 new cases per day compared to 30 just two weeks ago.”
He said the predictive models “are suggesting this may be the last huge surge of COVID–19 disease before the virus enters into a seasonal virus, like the flu and colds, and therefore, has a much lower impact on the overall health of humans globally.”
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