Disease Experts Forecast Summer Surge of COVID-19 Cases Due to New Variant

Main image to the post Disease Experts Forecast Summer Surge of COVID-19 Cases Due to New Variant

Disease experts are projecting a rise in COVID-19 cases during the summer, influenced by the spread of a new variant, KP.2. This variant, now making up a significant portion of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., has emerged as a dominant strain with distinct mutations in its spike protein compared to previous variants.

Referred to collectively with another variant as "FLiRT," KP.2, and its similar counterpart, possess key mutations associated with increased infectivity and potential evasion of immune responses. While KP.2 appears to require a higher viral dose for infection, concerns linger about its potential to bypass protection from vaccines or prior infections.

Amid concerns over the KP.2 variant's impact on vaccine effectiveness, experts suggest that individuals infected with the previous JN.1 variant may still retain some level of protection. However, with ongoing uncertainties about the variant's ability to cause distinct COVID-19 symptoms, researchers are cautious about its potential to fuel a summer surge in cases akin to previous years.

Experts attribute the recurring summer spikes in COVID-19 cases to the emergence of new variants, echoing experiences with prior waves such as the Delta wave. As discussions around targeting new variants with updated vaccines intensify, the FDA has postponed a meeting to determine the strains for inclusion in the fall vaccine formula, citing shifts in the dominant strains of SARS-CoV-2. Despite the urgency for an updated vaccine, guidance from health authorities suggests that those who have not yet received the updated shot may consider waiting until the fall when a new formulation becomes available, particularly for non-immunocompromised individuals.

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Round userpic of the post author Kyle Broflovski
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09