COVID hospitalizations and official COVID infection rates in our region have remained stable over the past two weeks despite major shifts in Omicron subvariants. The proportion of infections in the mid-Atlantic region attributed to the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has fallen to about 35%. The proportion due to subvariants that evade our monoclonal antibody toolkit (e.g., BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BF.7, BA4.6) now exceeds 60%.
These newer subvariants can, to varying degrees, evade neutralization by antibodies from prior infection, from monoclonal antibodies used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (Evusheld), and, in some cases, from monoclonal antibodies used for treatment (bebletovimab).
Because of the diminishing coverage of Evusheld, immunosuppressed individuals who received Evusheld should be advised to redouble their use of layered precautions in order to prevent COVID (e.g., wearing a high-quality mask in public) and should have a plan for treatment in case they become infected.
All Omicron subvariants are susceptible to the therapeutic agents remdesivir and Paxlovid. Early treatment with these antivirals is highly effective at preventing progression to severe disease in high-risk patients. Do not wait until symptoms are severe. Paxlovid is available at the MFA Pharmacy with or without a prescription. For patients requesting Paxlovid without a prescription, renal function and medication list must be available in the chart or provided by the patient. Molnupiravir is another oral option, but has substantially lower efficacy than paxlovid and cannot be used in pregnant women or children.
Early Flu Season Is Under Way
The U.S., including our region, is well into an early flu season. NOW is the time to get your influenza vaccination if you haven’t already done so!
Flu vaccines are available from the Clinic Dispensary for clinics to order for their departments. Managers need to complete the influenza order form to order up to a two-week supply.
The GW MFA Pharmacy is able to offer almost all vaccines on a walk-in basis, including to employees, but clinics should offer to administer the flu vaccine if a patient is already in the clinic for an appointment.
- COVID boosters are available for persons age 12 and up who have completed a primary series or been boosted at least two months ago. The vaccine is bivalent, containing spike proteins from Omicron subvariants BA4/5 as well as the original strain.
- GW MFA is offering the COVID booster on a walk-in basis at the GW MFA Pharmacy for patients, Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Patients can stop by the pharmacy before or after their visit.