Should people with lupus know about COVID-19 variants
By Robert S Katz MD, Chairman of the Board of the Lupus Society of Illinois
Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants of COVID-19 will continue to emerge. CDC and other public health organizations monitor all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the United States and globally.
Scientists monitor all variants but may classify certain ones as variants being monitored, variants of interest, variants of concern and variants of high consequence.
Currently, the two variants of concern are Delta & Omicron.
Data indicates that the Delta variant may cause more severe variants than other strains and that the Omicron variant is less potent than the previous Delta variant but more easily transmissible.
Overall the Omicron variant appears to be less aggressive. The Omicron successfully invades cells in the nose and upper airway, but does not do as much damage deep in the lungs. The symptoms are usually nasal including a cough and congestion in the upper airway.
Patients testing positive for the Omicron variant are still being hospitalized, although it tends to be a lot less potent compared with the Delta variant. However, COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have plummeted in both the unvaccinated and vaccinated in recent weeks, driving many states to rescind COVID-19 restrictions.
Some call the new variant just discovered the Delta-Omicron variant or Deltacron.. This recombinant hybrid between the Delta and Omicron variants seems to be rare at this point and may not represent a new phase of the pandemic.
The vaccines are effective against the variants. Those who are immunized will usually avoid hospitalization.
The vaccines and booster vaccines are effective against COVID-19, including those taking immunosuppressive therapies.
Robert S Katz, M.D.