Much of the US is experiencing a sustained resurgence of the SARS-CoV2 virus that has lasted for the last 6 weeks and is showing no signs of letting up. The last few weeks have been dominated by two highly infectious sub-variants of the fast-moving Omicron version of the SARS-CoV2 virus called the Ba.4 and Ba.5. Much of the recent activity observed in our testing region is due to the SARS-CoV2 Ba.5. Over 65% of local cases are due to this variant of the virus.

The Ba.5 variant is the most contagious version of the virus that we have faced to date. It is able to bypass immunity from previous infections and vaccination. This means that persons that were infected with Omicron in January of this year can be re-infected with this more infectious sub-variant. Over the past few weeks, hospitals have reported an increase in admissions in older persons with Covid infections. This trend has not been observed for many months and is particularly worrisome as most are vaccinated.

Despite evidence of increased transmissibility and the likelihood of increased severity, Americans remain resistant to protective policies recommended by public health professionals such as social distancing, masking and testing when symptomatic. The use of PCR testing is near the lowest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic and it is estimated for every one
person diagnosed with Covid19 there are five others walking around undiagnosed risking the lives of their neighbors. PCR testing should be employed whenever you are exposed to someone diagnosed with a SARS-CoV2 viral infection or you have a fever, cough, runny nose, headache or fatigue.

Rapid diagnosis, followed by quarantine remains our strongest option for limiting the spread of this virus. The Ba.5 subvariant is the most dangerous variant we have faced to date due to its infectivity and ability to escape immunity. Compass Laboratory Services remains committed to combatting this virus by offering a range of respiratory panels designed to assist clinicians by rapidly providing them accurate information to treat patients.

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