A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the United States, but experts have urged people not to panic.
The mutant strain, called HV.1, is a mutation of the EG.5 variant that raised concerns earlier this year.
It is now dominant in the U.S. behind 25 percent of cases, and experts say it is more transmissible than other variants. There are no signs that it is more likely to cause serious illness.
However, experts are not raising the alarm about the mutant strain, saying “there will always be new variants” as Covid continues to spread and mutate.
However, concerns are being raised about the slow US booster program, with uptake this weekend being called “abysmal” as less than three percent of Americans have come forward a month after the launch.
Covid cases and hospitalizations are currently trending downward and deaths are stabilizing, although experts warn that cold weather leading people to spend more time indoors could lead to a rise in cases.
The above shows CDC estimates of Covid variants spreading across the US. It shows that HV.1 is now dominant and behind about 25 percent of infections.
This map shows how HV.1 is currently more common on the East Coast than the West Coast.
The data above shows the number of HV.1 cases reported by state. California and New York have the most infections
said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University. WION: ‘It is important to recognize that there will always be new variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“(This is) just like any other endemic respiratory virus and most will not be of concern to anyone.”
Dr. Ross Kedl, an immunologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine, added: “All people know right now is that their representation is increasing.
“There is no evidence that it is more serious.”
And Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee, said Prevention: ‘I don’t think people should worry too much about this.
‘Some of the symptoms recorded have been cough, fatigue, congestion and runny nose. That sounds a lot like the common cold.
Scientists say Covid will continue to mutate and create new variants as new cases emerge.
But they add that there is little need to obsess over every new strain that appears because most will not increase the risk of serious illness.
HV.1 was first detected in late July in Costa Rica, according to the Covid variant tracking website outbreak.info.
It has now spread to more than 41 countries (including the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel) and a total of 4,397 cases have been detected, the majority in the United States.
However, this is likely a huge underestimate, because in many cases variants are not checked.
The mutant strain was detected in the US in July and has since accounted for an increasing proportion of cases.
At the end of August it was behind three percent of cases, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, in the last week of September it was behind 12 per cent of all Covid cases and the latest estimates for this month estimate it is now behind one in four infections.
California, the most populous state in the United States, has the most recorded cases, with 115, followed by New York, a “flag” state, with 70 cases.
The mutant strain has several mutations in its spike protein that experts say may make it better able to evade immunity and infect cells.
There are also no signs that it is currently causing any different symptoms, and doctors compare its symptoms (including cough and runny nose) to those of the common cold.
The map above shows countries that have reported at least one case of VH.1
The above shows the Covid test positivity rate in the US, or the proportion that detects the virus. This is an indicator of the situation on the ground.
This shows that Covid hospitalizations are being recorded throughout the United States. The latest data shows a five percent drop in numbers
The above shows the number of Covid deaths recorded per week. This measure is currently stalling.
The United States is currently rolling out an updated Covid booster vaccine that is available to everyone over six months old. Top advisers say, however, that only those over 65 should be vaccinated.
The vaccine is based on the Covid XBB.1.5 variant, which was dominant this summer, and experts say HV.1 is a “grandson” of this strain.
They suggest that the vaccine will still work well against severe disease caused by HV.1 because it has only a few additional mutations.
It comes as Covid cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward across the country.
The latest data from the CDC showed that the positivity rate (proportion of tests that detected the virus) fell to 8.7 percent in the week through October 21, compared to 9.4 percent in the week former.
There were also 13,036 Covid patients hospitalized in the week to October 21, the latest available, down 4.6 per cent from 13,652 at the same time last week.
For comparison, at the peak of the last two years there were 145,636 Covid patients in hospitals on January 8, 2022.
Covid deaths are currently leveling off, with 1,347 being recorded each week, and preliminary data suggests they could soon begin to decline.
Some experts warn, however, that the indicators will begin to trend upward in the coming weeks because colder weather will cause more people to stay home.
There are also gatherings for the upcoming holiday holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, which will cause different generations to come together, which could fuel the spread of Covid.
Dr. Kelly Oakeson, chief scientist at the Utah Department of Health, told the Deseret News, “If this happened in the summer, it might have less of an impact on everything.”
“But now that this is happening in the fall/winter, people are inside, it’s colder outside and there are more holidays.”
‘We will surely see an increase in cases. Is it powered by HV.1? Is this solely due to seasonality, what time of year it is?
“No, it’s probably a combination of all those things… we’ve seen it now, year after year.”
Concerns have also been raised about the JN.1 Covid variant, which is a mutated version of the BA.2.86 strain, or ‘Pirola’, which scientists have warned could lead to a new wave of infections.
To date, 51 cases have been reported worldwide in 11 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Some scientists fear that this strain is more transmissible than others and could cause a new wave of infections.
Dr Oakeson described this mutant strain as “alarming”.
“We’re definitely seeing it,” he said.
“I’m not sure I’m at the same level of concern that I was with BA.2.86 just because this one is a descendant of those and we didn’t see it take off in the US like it did in other parts of the world.” world.’