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Encore of “tripledemic” feared in California

Wednesday, December 6th 2023 - 10:18 UTC
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The Pirola variant (BA.2.86) of Covid-19 is expected to be prevalent this season The Pirola variant (BA.2.86) of Covid-19 is expected to be prevalent this season

Health authorities in the US State of California have reported a surge in the number of cases of Covid-19, flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). In response, residents have been urged to get vaccinated in a move to avoid the potential collapse of the sanitary network where an encore of last year's “tripledemic” is feared.

As Covid and flu hospital admissions are increasing statewide, Fresno County last month advised ambulances not to transport patients to hospitals if they were somehow stable and not suffering from an emergency.

Nationwide, “RSV season is in full swing,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a House of Representatives subcommittee last week. ”The flu season is just beginning across most of the country, though accelerating fast. And while we’re seeing relatively low levels of Covid, Covid is still the primary cause of new respiratory hospitalizations and deaths, with about 15,000 hospitalizations and about 1,000 deaths every single week,” she added.

Despite recent increases, California health officials recall that at this time last year, children’s hospitals were under stress, with exceptionally high RSV admissions. This time around, the flu season has already begun and is on the rise, it was reported.

The new flu and Covid-19 vaccines are specifically formulated against particular viral strains believed to be prevalent this season, including the Pirola variant (BA.2.86) of Covid-19. The CDC estimates that BA.2.86 constituted 8.8% of coronavirus cases over the two-week period that ended Nov. 25, up from 3% for the prior two-week period.

Given Pirola's unusually high number of mutations, doctors advise against relying on old booster shots or natural immunity from past infections. A very small percentage of Californians is believed to have received the updated Covid-19 vaccine.

At the same time, a significant rise in respiratory illness among children in northern China is under scrutiny. Cohen told House lawmakers last week that “we do not believe this is a new or novel pathogen,” but a combination of illnesses such as Covid-19, flu, RSV, as well as a bacterium called mycoplasma pneumoniae that can infect the respiratory system and trigger bronchitis or pneumonia.”

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Tags: COVID-19, Pirola.

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