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Will new COVID subvariants impact NC? Duke expert intervenes

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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – The latest CDC figures show a nearly 20 percent increase in the average number of new COVID cases in the past week over the previous week, and new subvariants of the virus are emerging in some regions of the country.

The New York State Health Department recently issued a warning about recently identified Omicron subvariants, which reads, in part, “State health officials have determined that these highly contagious new variants are likely contributing to the rising cases.”

“It may be part of the virus, but it’s also part of our social behavior,” noted Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke. “We have all largely dropped our masks. We started gathering; a lot of people travel.”

According to Wolfe, health experts in North Carolina are monitoring variants in other parts of the country and the world. “We don’t tend to have these things erupt here first,” he explained. “We often get a good lag time from watching places like New York, Boston, London or South Africa come up first because there’s just more people crammed together there, more opportunity for things to spread and be transmitted. We tend to be a more remote state.”

Currently, the fast-spreading Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 is most common in North Carolina.

“We’ve also seen a bit of the subvariants called BA.3, and I think we’re looking hard for BA.4 BA.5,” Wolfe said, adding that there are also subvariants of BA.2.

As the virus continues to evolve, experts will work to learn as much as possible about the new strains.

“It’s not yet clear to us whether they’re more likely to lead to serious illnesses,” he said. That doesn’t seem to be the case so far.”

It is not clear if North Carolina will see a significant number of cases caused by the recently identified subvariants. Wolfe said he expected our vaccines to withstand the new strains and protect vaccinated and boosted people from serious illness and death.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/north-carolina-news/will-new-covid-subvariants-impact-nc-duke-expert-weighs-in/ Will new COVID subvariants impact NC? Duke expert intervenes

DUSTIN JONES

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