The first half of 2022 is officially over and a lot has changed surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. This will serve as a general update for everything COVID-19 related and how to move forward.
Rising COVID-19 Cases (Rise of Omicron BA.4/5)
For the month of June, the world has seen an increasing amount of COVID cases for each consecutive week. According to the WHO, during the week of June 20-26, over 4.1 million cases of COVID were reported, an 18% increase from the week before. The WHO notes that cases have risen in over 110 countries, mostly due to the Omicron variants of concern BA.4 and BA.5 that are the new dominant strain spreading around the world.
The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains were first discovered in January and February of this year in South Africa. These two variants are different from previous Omicron strains in that they are better able to evade immunity and antibody responses of vaccinated individuals. This means that these strains are more resilient and are more difficult to contain as of now, with a high chance of reinfection. Although most vaccinated individuals are protected against the original strains of COVID-19, previously vaccinated individuals and people who have recovered from COVID-19 show no additional protection when exposed to BA.4 and BA.5. This indicates that these strains are a stronger threat to public safety than the previous variants, and are expected to create another surge in COVID-19 cases. However, just like with previous variants, several medical lab manufacturers are currently working on vaccines that will be effective against BA.4/5.
The BA.4/5 variants are the fastest spreading COVID-19 variants to date, and are expected to make up the majority of COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admits that “The pandemic is changing, but it’s not over”. He also went on to say that the world’s ability to track COVID-19’s spread and evolution were under threat since many countries are lightening up on COVID testing/ surveillance and travel requirements.
On June 12, the United States officially lifted the travel requirement for inbound travelers to show proof of negative COVID results before entering the US. However, in most cases international travelers coming to the US will still have to show proof of vaccination in order to get approved for entry. Nonetheless, this marks the end of one of the longest and most strict travel requirements for the US, hopefully bringing a much needed boost to the US tourism and travel industry. According to a senior Biden administration official, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will review this decision within 90 days and decide on whether or not the requirements will need to change.
The most important thing you can do for your community is to get vaccinated and get tested for COVID-19. The more people that get vaccinated, the closer the world can get to herd immunity, and the less effect the coronavirus will have on people. People who are vaccinated are less likely to catch COVID-19, in addition people who get vaccinated also report less severe symptoms if they do catch the virus. The WHO urges countries to reach a 70% vaccination rate for their citizens, believing that this is an adequate amount of people to keep people safe from the virus. However, many developing countries are struggling to get anywhere near this rate, so it is important to get vaccinated regardless of how well your country is performing in this metric.
Getting tested for COVID-19 is a great way to stay informed on the virus and its progress. When enough people get tested, government and health institutions are able to track hot spot areas where the virus could be incubating. The more people that get tested, the more accurate information we have on how the virus reacts and spreads.
If you would like to get tested, you can visit one of our testing centers below and take a test. In addition to that, you can take any at-home or over-the-counter test from the safety and privacy of your home in conjunction with our Certified Teleservice for COVID Testing. Our teleservice gets you an online appointment with a medical professional who walks you through the testing procedure and verifies your test results immediately. If you would like to book an appointment at a testing center or use the teleservice, you can find them below.