In the present day, keeping up with all of the latest coronavirus variants has become nearly impossible. After a relentless trend that lasted most of the summer, the latest coronavirus wave in the United States appears to be winding down.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the daily average of new coronavirus cases fell below 100,000 for the first time in about two months (August – September). The average daily infection rate was around 99,000, down from 130,000 a month ago.
However, in recent weeks, COVID trackers have been bombarded with a dizzying barrage of BA.4.6s and BF.7s, as well as BA.2.75.2s and BQ.1.1s. There’s even an unsettling new sublineage known as XBB.
That’s far too many numbers and letters for most Americans, the vast majority of whom appear to be “over” COVID anyway. But there’s a new variant out there now.
Ba.5 Omicron Offshoot – The Last Big Variant of Concern
BA.5 reached a significant peak in July. Since then, reported cases in the United States have dropped by 70%. While far too many Americans continue to die from COVID every day – nearly 400 on average – the rate has returned to pre-BA.5 levels. Though it’s a rare moment of calm, the need for frequent COVID-19 testing is still there.
But something new — and potentially dangerous for the most vulnerable among all— has been happening beneath the surface: Omicron has begun to “splinter.”
As a result, the world may be entering the pandemic’s next phase. People will almost certainly never regress to the horrific era of collapsing ICUs and thousands of deaths per day, thanks to rapid RT-PCR tests, layers of immunity from vaccination and prior infection, as well as lifesaving treatments like Paxlovid.
The Current Situation
Scientists are now seeing a number of concerning Omicron descendants emerge simultaneously but independently in various parts of the world — all with the same set of advantageous mutations that allow them to avoid our existing immune defenses and drive new waves of infection.
This is known as “convergent evolution,” and there is currently a “fairly unprecedented amount” of it going on, according to Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London.
“Although things started in different places — some BA.2, some BA.5 — everything is heading back in the same direction,” Peacock recently told in an interview. “They’re getting the same mutations, which implies that there’s a very strong selective pressure in the environment right now, which of course is people’s immunity.”
This is problematic for two reasons. The first is that the most vulnerable — the immunocompromised and the elderly — do not produce as strong or as long a response to infection or vaccination. Monoclonal antibody treatments have aided in filling the void and protecting them from serious illnesses.
That is why it is essential to keep track of the infection regularly by getting COVID-19 testing done.
What About Travelling Internationally?
If you live in Arizona, U.S, and are planning to travel to foreign countries, make sure to know about the country’s current COVID-19 status. For example, if you are visiting China or Spain, get a quick Rapid RT-PCR Travel Testing/Rapid Antigen Test before traveling as COVID cases are quite high in the aforementioned countries right now.
Affordable Rapid Testing is here to help you with your COVID testing requirements. We provide Covid-19 RT-PCR Travel Testing for China with same-day guaranteed results and COVID-19 Expedited Rapid Antigen And Rapid Antibody IgG/IgM Travel Certification Testing with travel certification test results typically available within 30-60 minutes. Come in and get tested with us for quick results. We accept walk-ins and can also schedule appointments online. Every time slot has a low price guarantee. Please contact us at 480-819-9408 if you have any further questions or need more information.