COVID variant HV.1 becomes dominant in US, vaccination challenges persist

COVID variant HV.1 becomes dominant in US | Credits: Google
COVID variant HV.1 becomes dominant in US | Credits: Google

Washington, United States: A new COVID variant – HV. 1, has become dominant, according to the data released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The new variant has replaced the EG. 5 variant – which was earlier the most prevalent in the nation.

The dominance of new variants is observed following the administration of new shots to a few people that will, expectedly, provide protection against it. According to health experts, these new variants are genetically similar to the versions of Omicron.

The data shows that the HV.1 variant makes up around 25% of the COVID-19 cases in the country – the data is up by 1% as compared to the beginning of August.

Both variants are the descendants of the XBB variant. According to the update by the health experts, the newly developed jab from Pfizer and Moderna targets XBB.1.5 – a different descendant of XBB. The vaccine became available last month.

COVID variant HV.1 becomes dominant in US, vaccination challenges persist | Credits: Reuters

However, the doctors have outlined that these shots will provide cross-protection against the currently dominant strains. An infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine, Dr Scott Roberts, told NBC News that this vaccine might not be a “perfect match” for HV.1, but it will still provide protection against the variant.

Only 3.5% of the US Population is vaccinated from the new jab

Only about 3.5% of people in the United States, roughly 12 million Americans, have gotten the new COVID shots since they were made available in mid-September, according to a spokesperson from the CDC. It is to be noted that this number is a rough estimate because states are not obligated to report vaccination numbers anymore.

Roberts was quoted saying, “I hope uptick increases, but I’m pretty pessimistic. I don’t think we’ll hit anywhere near the levels we had last year.”

Factors responsible for hindrance

According to various reports, the season has come along with several hindrances in vaccine rollout. One such issue is accessibility and hesitancy – which was observed in past vaccination campaigns. This time, it was the first time vaccines were available in the commercial market and were not ordered, distributed or funded by the federal government.

COVID variant HV.1 becomes dominant in US, vaccination challenges persist | Credits: Google Images

In this regard, the director of the Centre of Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston – Dr Dan Barouch, mentioned, “The logistic complications certainly were not helpful, but I think that the low uptake is more than that. The low uptake reflects that most of the public is no longer concerned about Covid,” according to the NBS News.

Further, Barouch highlighted that this new dominant variant is expected to be slighter better than EG.5 in case of spreading among people. He furthermore outlined, “I would expect that it might be a slight increase in transmissibility or immune escape, which is why it appears to be dominating. Does it change any booster recommendations so far? Probably not.”

Shaky vaccine rollout

In the current vaccine distribution plan, both public and private insurance providers are responsible for paying for the shots and the vaccines are independently ordered by the healthcare and pharmacy networks. This setup has brought about new problems, such as insurance complications, delivery delays, and appointment cancellations.

While most insurance companies agreed to cover the new COVID-19 vaccines completely, some were not able to update their billing systems in time for appointments of the general public. As a result, individuals were mistakenly informed that they had to pay for their shots, causing some to cancel their vaccination appointments. The Biden administration stated at the end of September that these issues have largely been resolved.

According to the reports, some appointments were canceled by pharmacies due to the delay in the shipments. Barouch mentioned, “If people try and are unable to get their vaccine, then it’s likely they’ll never go back and try again.”

Roberts shared that despite his best attempts, the children haven’t received their updated vaccines. He also had difficulty getting his own vaccine because his hospital was waiting for doses, and local pharmacies in New Haven, Connecticut, didn’t have any available appointments.

Because of this delay and unavailability, he traveled outside the region to get vaccinated.

Roberts emphasized, “I’m an infectious disease physician who works with Covid. I cannot imagine how difficult this is for the normal person out there in the community who wants to get vaccinated,” as per NBC News.

He furthermore highlighted that the COVID-19 infection has been making people severely ill despite a slow transmission rate.

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