AZ health official talks rise in COVID cases, long COVID and second booster shots

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A recent uptick in COVID-19 cases around the country is raising concerns about a possible summer surge, along with questions regarding the wisdom of getting booster shots now as opposed to waiting for the next round of COVID vaccines. Here with the latest on COVID is Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

What is going on with the uptick in cases?

Humble said that while there is “a measurable” increase in general hospital admissions for COVID-19, ICU admissions remain stable. He also said that antibodies wane as each new wave fades.

“If you remember, the big omicron wave was between Thanksgiving and the month of January, that’s a few months ago now, so what happens when you have a big wave of infections is that your body makes a whole lot of antibodies during that infection, and those wane over time, and as your antibodies wane, it makes you more susceptible to re-infection.”

Is it time for those vaccinated and boosted to get a second one, or should they wait for new boosters in development?  

Humble advises those seeking another booster shot to talk to their doctor first.

New vaccines are being developed, potentially to be released in the fall. Will they last longer or even make new boosters unnecessary?

“I don’t know yet. The thing that we know about this virus is that it has changed, remember its original ancestral strain, the alpha strain, then Delta, then Omicron, now there’s four different kinds of Omicron, we know that this virus has changed a lot in two years, and it’s reasonable to expect it to continue changing, so I think there will probably always be boosters.”

Are vaccinated people experiencing long COVID symptoms?

Humble said that while vaccination plays a role in the risk of long COVID, how many times a patient has been infected also matters.

“Most of the long COVID occurs with the initial infection, so that might have been a Delta infection last year, could have been an Omicron infection over the big wave we’ve just had, seldom do you see long COVID coming from a re-infection.”

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