MUSC: New subvariant could be cause of increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - COVID-19 cases are spiking in South Carolina, and hospital officials say they are starting to feel the effects.
According to the CDC, most of the state is in the high or medium levels for COVID-19 right now.
Just last week, MUSC saw a 31% increase in Covid hospitalizations in the Charleston Tri-County area. Officials say there are currently around 4% of staffed hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients.
A new subvariant that may or may not be in South Carolina is what MUSC’s Dr. Michael Sweat is calling “a real wild card.”
People are calling XBB.1.5 “the Kraken,” a mythical sea creature that rises unexpectedly. Sweat says this new variant is growing faster than Omicron and is highly transmissible.
His team reported that the Kraken is to blame for over 27% of all cases in the U.S. but over 70% now in the New England area.
“It’s likely here already and it will probably take off and be dominant, but it makes it much more transmissible. It is not anymore necessarily serious, there’s no evidence that it causes a worse case for people, but the fact that we have so many more people that get it, causes these numbers to go up, and so it is a concern and it’s part of the picture of what’s happening,” Sweat said.
Sweat describes right now as a warning. He says MUSC is functioning okay, but things could spiral if people aren’t cautious.
Sweat encourages those who aren’t vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 to do so.
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