COVID-19 reinfections on the rise as officials call for a new booster

Jul 22, 2022, 12:54 PM


(Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

(Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

The Washington State Department of Health has released a new report showing that COVID-19 reinfection rates are rising as the new BA.5 strain becomes the most infectious yet.

In the report, graphs show an increase in reinfections in December 2021 at the start of the Omicron strain surge before falling off in February 2022.

A similar pattern is seen with the COVID-19 BA.5 strain with reinfections slowly increasing starting in May 2022. The difference? Instead of peaking and falling quickly over the course of a few months, the resurgence of reinfections has plateaued during the summer months, neither reaching the same peaks of the Omicron surge or falling as rapidly.

BA.5 reinfects former COVID patients as health officials push for updated vaccine

While vaccinations do a lot to prevent reinfection, serious symptoms, hospitalization, and death, there are a significant number of breakthrough cases that will continue as COVID-19 becomes endemic.

Of the 59,782 cases that have been reported, only 2.6% were bad enough for hospitalization. The number of cases might not be accurate though, the report notes, and are likely much higher. With at-home testing becoming more popular, the report does not have a way to take the at-home positive tests into account.

As health officials warn of reinfection cases, they also push for a new booster to protect the public.

“For some of us, that’ll be our fifth shot. So the booster that is going to be made is new and it will contain the original, what we call the ancestral Coronavirus, but it’ll also contain BA.4- and BA.5-like sequences in them,” Dr. Keith Jerome, the Director of the University of Washington Virology Lab said.

“The idea is that if more variants come up, there is a good chance that they’ll rise from BA.4 or BA.5, that’s not a guarantee, but we’re hedging our bets that what new variants might come are most likely to be covered by one of those three variants, and you’ll be better protected if you get this new Omicron-specific booster.”

Independent scientists and physicians endorsed an updated vaccine for King County by a 19-2 vote. A new booster is expected to roll out by the fall of this year.

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