Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic a number of new strains of the infection have been detected.
Some have not given health bodies much cause for concern while others have gone on to spark a huge uptick in cases, such as the Omicron variant.
Almost four years later, the virus is continuing to mutate resulting in more and more strains of the disease.
This summer, for example, the UK witnessed a surge in positive cases with the Eris and Pirola variants blamed.
Experts have now shared their concerns about another strain, dubbed the “grandchild” of Omicron.
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According to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the HV.1 variant currently accounts for around a quarter of all Covid infections in the US.
This makes it the most dominant strain in the country at the moment, with Eris – also called EG.5 – just behind it, making up around 22 percent of cases.
Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic, explained how these strains share some similarities with Omicron.
However, they also display some differences, “and most of those mutations are rendering the virus, including HV.1, to be able to spread more efficiently from person to person,” he told the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
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Speaking to Today.com, Dr William Schaffner – professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre – also highlighted how contagious the HV.1 variant is.
He said: “You can almost think of HV.1 as a grandchild of Omicron.
“One of the characteristics of this entire Omicron family is that they are highly transmissible.”
As reported by the AARP, Dr Binnicker advised getting vaccinated against Covid to best protect yourself from a severe infection that could result in a hospital admission or death.
But the uptake for an autumn booster jab in the US has been low, with a survey showing just seven percent of Americans had had theirs.
“And that’s just not high enough,” Binnicker said.
“We need to have a higher percentage vaccinated because we are seeing patients with Covid end up in the hospital and on ventilators.”
He also recommended wearing face masks in public spaces and washing your hands regularly.
He added: “That’s really important to help prevent spread as well.”
But what are some of the telltale signs of the HV.1 strain? Dr Schaffner likened them to the symptoms seen in recent iterations of Covid.
He advised the following could be symptoms of HV.1:
- Sore throat
- Congestion or stuffiness
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
- Fever or chills.
Although testing and isolating is no longer mandatory in the UK, the NHS recommends staying home and avoiding contact with others if you experience symptoms of Covid or test positive.
You should do so for five days, the health body says.
But you should avoid contact with vulnerable people for 10 days.
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