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Thursday Thunder: Omicron BA.4.6 Might Resist Evusheld Antibodies + Polio in New York

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Three male doctors studying an X-ray exam result

As a society, we’re slowly but steadily seeing signs that the COVID-19 pandemic is coming under control. It’s fair to say that both our personal actions and the intense international vaccination campaigns had an impact, and are the key to keep moving forward. However, despite all this progress, there is still a lot to be done. not only regarding COVID but also other re-emerging diseases.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss the impact of the BA.4.6 variant in immunocompromised patients and the efficacy of the Evushield drug. In addition, we’ll take a look at the recent New York State of Emergency declaration due to new confirmed Polio cases.

BA.4.6: A Challenge for Immunocompromised Patients

What is Evusheld? (And Study Findings)

Evusheld is an AstraZeneca development produced by a combination of two long-lasting antibodies. Administered semiannually, it can prevent COVID-19 infection in immunocompromised individuals who don’t get sufficient protection from vaccines.

This essential therapy has held up well against newer variants of the coronavirus. But in recent studies, David Ho, professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, observed that the BA.4.6 subvariant can circumvent certain antibody combinations, including Evusheld.

In other words, Evusheld may not be able to protect against this variant of COVID, leaving immunocompromised patients exposed. Still, it’s fair to note that very few cases of BA.4.6 in immunocompromised patients have been reported so far.

What’s the Status of BA.4.6 in The U.S.?

BA.4.6 is an offshoot of the Omicron subvariant BA.4. Despite only a few mutations separating it from its predecessor, it is currently gaining some attention in the United States.

BA.4.6 currently accounts for 7% to 10% of new Covid-19 infections in the U.S., and that percentage is increasing in Midwestern regions, where it causes 18% of new infections.

Nevertheless, BA.5 continues to lead COVID statistics with 88.9% of infections.

Recommendations for Evusheld Patients

According to Dr. Ho, immunosuppressed people today should be aware that Evusheld may not be as protective as it once was. As studies move forward to find out how resistant BA.4.6 is, the official recommendation for Evusheld-treated patients is to be more cautious.

This said, there’s no reason to panic, the number of people infected with BA.4.6 is quite low. Just take care of yourself and stay safe.

Now, let’s take a look at the New York State of Emergency declared in response to polio.

Polio in the U.S: Polio Emergency Declared in New York

State of Emergency Declaration and Affected Counties

If you plan to visit New York, you should know that the New York Governor’s Office has declared a state of emergency due to the sustained spread of the poliovirus in the community.

So far, the virus has been detected in a four counties:

  • Nassau on Long Island (immediately east of New York City)
  • Rockland
  • Orange
  • Sullivan

New York’s state of emergency was declared after the Nassau sample was found to be genetically linked to the first Rockland County case.

New York: Emergency Measures

The statement now empowers emergency department workers, pharmacists, and midwives to administer the polio vaccine. Doctors can also issue “standing orders for vaccination.”

What Comes Next and Vaccination Campaign

According to Dr. Mary Bassett, State Health Commissioner, the risk of paralytic disease in unvaccinated patients is significant. In fact, the confirmed case of Polio in Nassau came from an unvaccinated young man.

Researchers are also investigating whether asymptomatic patients are spreading the disease without showing symptoms.

Meanwhile, the goal of New York’s State of Emergency is to increase awareness of the disease and encourage vaccinations. Currently, overall vaccination rates are 79% but they’re lower in affected counties.

Key Takeaways

In the coming weeks, it will be possible to get a more comprehensive picture of the polio virus’ progress, and BA.4.6 variant’s impact (which is slight, so far). Until we have more information, let’s take care of each other. Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask in crowded places, and get tested before you travel.

Are you planning your next trip? Find testing locations near you with our international directory.

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