New strain causes spike in COVID cases

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 8:35 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - COVID cases are back on the rise around the nation and here in Cleveland, and doctors say this new strain is causing severe symptoms.

“Patients just seem sick with this variant,” said Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Another subvariant of COVID is making the rounds, and this one’s knocking people down longer.

“We’re getting a lot more people complaining of fever for a prolonged period of time, like five, or six or seven days,” said Dr. Edwards. “Sore throat seems to be... just really bad sore throat for multiple days.”

Dr. Edwards says we have variant BA.5 to thank for this.

It’s still under the Omicron family and that means it’s going around fast.

“The strain is so contagious and immunity is so fleeting, that you can just get re-infected,” said Dr. Edwards.

Those traits of the virus are reflected in Cuyahoga County’s most recent numbers.

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, in the last four weeks, cases have risen from just over 1,200 to nearly 1,500.

Hospitalization rates are also up, but at a lower rate.

To make matters worse, the vaccine many have gotten to protect themselves is losing efficacy.

According to Dr. Edwards, it now prevents just 20-25% of infections.

“It takes longer for the immune system to recognize it as a threat to do something about it, so what we see is as the Omicron variant has arisen and mutated from prior variants and from the parent strain, but without changing the vaccine, the vaccine is struggling to be effective,” said Dr. Edwards.

So how can we protect ourselves?

The same thing doctors have been telling us for the last two and a half years: masking and social distancing

Doctors say there are new vaccines in the works to better prevent this ever-mutating virus.

They say we should expect more information on that in the coming weeks.

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